BURBANK — Despite a promising start against defending Pacific League champion Arcadia High, the Burroughs girls’ soccer team saw its league title hopes dwindle in the 13th minute Tuesday when the Apaches pulled ahead for a one-goal lead.
The defensive approach to the match wasn’t working for the Indians, so Burroughs coach Brady Riggs turned to the free-flow style of play that his team responded to.
It was the sophomore pair of Lauryn Bailey and Lily Gonzalez that scored in both halves to lift Burroughs to a 2-1 victory against the Apaches at Memorial Field, putting the Indians one step closer to their first league title since 1993.
“It was my fault in the beginning of the game,” Riggs said. “I was a little too conservative with how we set up. We gave up the goal and then I just said, ‘Screw it. I’m just going to let them run and just let them play their game.’ So I over-coached in the beginning. They saved me. The players bailed the coach out today. It’s their win, 100 percent. They saved me today.”
Bailey scored in the 31st minute to tie it at 1, before Gonzalez scored the game-winning goal in the 67th minute on a run down the middle.
Gonzalez picked up a yellow card in the 61st minute and came back five minutes later to help the Indians regain possession in the middle of the field. Gonzalez dribbled past two Arcadia defenders and made her way into the penalty area to score the go-ahead goal.
“I was very frustrated with myself [with] the way that I was playing,” Gonzalez said. “But I knew that my performance shouldn’t go against my teammates, so I knew that when I came back in, I had to come back twice as hard.”
Coming into the day, Burroughs (14-3-2, 11-1-1 in league) was tied for first place with Crescenta Valley in leaguethe Pacific League standings, with Arcadia, the winner of the last seven league titles, in third.
“They’re easily the best team in this league since I’ve been coaching here since 2013,” Riggs said. “To beat them with everything on the line is absolutely cool, especially coming from behind. But that’s this group. I knew that we wouldn’t quit. I knew we’d play 80-plus minutes and we did.’
With Crescenta Valley’s 8-0 win against Glendale on Tuesday, the fight for the league title goes to the final day on Thursday, when Burroughs faces Burbank and Arcadia (10-8-2, 9-3-1) hosts Crescenta Valley (14-4-3, 11-1-1).
A win by Burroughs over its rival would give it a share of its first league championship in 27 years, when it was part of the Foothill League. If the Falcons tie or lose against Arcadia, the title would be the Indians’ alone.
“Anything can happen in a rivalry game,” Riggs said. “Obviously they would like nothing more than to make our lives miserable. We have one more to go. We didn’t come this far not to play all the games out the full 80 minutes, so we’ll be ready Thursday to do what we have to do.”
Burroughs kicks off against Burbank at 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Field, while Arcadia has a 5 p.m. start against Crescenta Valley.
Arcadia absorbed much of the early Burroughs pressure before the Apaches found a breakthrough in the 13th minute. Apache winger Bertha Guzman grabbed possession outside the Burroughs penalty area after the ball split through the middle of the Indians’ backline and the junior rocketed the shot up the middle for a 1-0 Arcadia lead.
The Indians regrouped and took on a flurry of counter-attacks and attempted two shots immediately after conceding the opening goal.
Burroughs striker Trinity Vournas nearly had the equalizer in the 18th minute after she found a loose ball in the penalty area, but the shot rebounded off of an Arcadia defender.
Bailey finally put the Indians on board after she found a through-ball sent down the middle of the field for which she calmly curled into the right corner.
“We always come back,” said Bailey, who, along with Gonzalez, has scored four goals in two games following a hat-trick against Pasadena. “After they scored, we know we always come back. We just had to keep playing.”
The Indians closed out the half with a frantic few minutes before Bailey attempted another shot from the right side of the penalty area that curled wide left in the 39th minute.
Gonzalez opened the second half with a shot that went wide right in the 42nd minute, but that would set the tone for the rest of the match.
The Indians sat around the Apaches’ half and Gonzalez would find another opening in the 50th minute, only see her shot go wide.