BURBANK — A win in the regular season finale for the Burroughs High boys’ soccer team would give it two feathers in their cap.
A victory would bring the Indians the Pacific League title and it would come at the expense of host and rival Burbank.
The Indians did not let the opportunity slip way, and with Manny Gonzalez recording a hat trick, Burroughs came away with 4-0 victory over the host Bulldogs on Thursday to secure the league title.
“Hard work, hard work is everything, especially with these guys behind me,” Gonzalez said of winning the league crown. “Its the consistency we played with, the heart we played with and we play for each other.”
When the day started, there was a chance even with a win over Burbank (3-10-3, 2-9-3 in league), Burroughs (14-5-3, 10-2-1) would have to share the championship, as the Indians were tied atop league with Crescenta Valley. However, when the Falcons tied Arcadia 2-2 on Thursday, Burroughs won the title outright, edging the Falcons in points, 32-30.
Gonzalez scored the first three goals of the game. They came in the 37th, 44th and 63rd minutes.
“[Manny] is a sophomore,” Burroughs coach Michael Kodama said. “He scored 15 goals last year which is the school record for freshmen. He has 16 or 17 now, which is obviously the school record for the sophomores too.”
The first goal of the contest, coming just before halftime, was not without controversy. Gonzalez burst through the Burbank backline and ran onto a pass. The side judge raised his flag for what would have been the seventh offside call on Burroughs of the half, but the referee waved it off.
On the play, the Bulldogs defense and goalkeeper eased up expecting a stoppage in play. However, Gonzalez kept going and put the ball in the back of the net. The Bulldogs erupted with complainants, but the referee countered that “the whistle stops the game” and, indeed, there had been none.
“It was getting frustrating seeing all these offsides called on us when they didn’t seem to be offsides,” Gonzalez said. “[On the goal] the referee called what he called, we kept playing … and the ball went in.”
After that, Burbank coach Loi Phan went on the field and confronted the referee with significant vigor for several minutes, but nothing came of it. The Bulldogs coach was more circumspect after the game.
“Either way they were the better team. That goal was not going to determine the outcome [but], right before the half was tough,” Phan said.
The visitors led, 1-0, at the break.
“The big play was Manny’s goal late in the first half,” said Kodama, whose team last won league in 2017. “It kind of got the guys to relax and refocus. We brought it into halftime and we talked about being a little quicker with the ball.”
Burroughs got some breathing room when Gonzalez netted another goal with 36 minutes left in the contest. The sophomore broke through in the middle of the field, taking the ball at the goalkeeper who he deftly juked with his dribble-cutting with the ball before tapping it in.
With 17 minutes to go, Gonzalez completed his hat trick when he took a through ball from Esteban Alcantar to get behind the Burbank defense. Once again faced with only the goalie to beat, this time he used his dribble to work around the right side of the keeper before tapping it in.
The final goal came with six minutes left and came from an unlikely source. When Burroughs was awarded a free kick in the middle of the field from 25 yards out, Indians goalkeeper Alfredo Tejeda came forward to take it. The senior promptly sent the ball over the wall and into the goal as the Bulldogs’ reserve goalie could not keep his hands on it.
“Today was the first time ever, ever in high school [that I scored],” said Tejeda, who also came away with a clean sheet in goal.
Up next for the Indians will be a first round game in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
For the Bulldogs the season comes to an end. The playoff pairings are set to be released Saturday.