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Girls' Soccer Preview: Trio of teams look to make noise in league, and beyond

Girls' Soccer Preview: Trio of teams look to make noise in league, and beyond
Lauryn Bailey is a key returner this season for the Burroughs High girls' soccer team. (File Photo)

The 2017-18 girls’ soccer campaign was one of the most successful in program history for Burroughs High.

The Indians finished second in a competitive Pacific League behind Arcadia, qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs and won a postseason match.

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It was also a successful campaign for Providence, which captured a title in its final season in the Liberty League. However, the Pioneers will step up into the Prep League this season where the competition should be tougher. The team also has a new coach.

Foe Burbank, it is coming off a season in which it struggled and didn’t advance to the postseason. With some key returning players, the Bulldogs are hoping to reverse their fortunes.

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Here is a closer look at the teams.

BURROUGHS

Perhaps the Indians’ finest accomplishment last season was placing second in the Pacific League, losing just one match in the process and finishing three points behind champion Arcadia.

Burroughs went 15-3-3, 9-1-2 in tleague, with its lone league setback a 1-0 loss to the Apaches. The Indians won a Division IV wild-card match against Brentwood, 1-0, before losing in the first round to Aliso Niguel, 4-0.

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“Last year’s season was built off the previous season and we were able to continue to create an identity of who we are as a program and what we’re trying to do,” Burroughs coach Brady Riggs said. “We were one goal away from winning part of the league.

“We did lose some key players from that team, but we have some underclassmen who should be good. I will have only two starters who are seniors, and they are all-league players.”

The two seniors are midfielder Abbie Riggs and defender Emily McHorney. Riggs proved to be a force on offense as well as defense for Burroughs. Voted the team's most valuable player, Riggs had eight goals along with 20 assists. McHorney was a stalwart on defense for Burroughs, finishing with three goals and three assists.

Another key returner is sophomore Lauryn Bailey, who had a breakout season in her first year by leading the team in goals with 18 to go with five assists.

Other players who will be looked upon to contribute are sophomore centerback Gabby Morales, sophomore forward/midfielder Lilly Gonzalez and sophomore utility Samantha Valencia.

“We are going to expect leadership from Abbie and Emily,” Brady Riggs said. “And with Lauren, she’s going to have to be reckoned with, having scored 18 goals last year. But we also have this group that have been playing as kind of understudies for the girls we were ahead of them, so I’m fired up for them to see what they can do.

“Even though we’re not very old, in terms of our players, we are pretty deep in terms of talent and we’re pretty young. So this is going to be a group, a lot of them, that is going to be around for a few years.”

In league, Riggs said he expects Arcadia to likely provide the stiffest competition.

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PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers finished 11-2-2 and won the league championship with a 7-1 mark, securing its second straight Liberty League title.

Moving to the Prep League, Providence will face the likes of Flintridge Prep, Firabaugh, Westridge, Mayfield, Chadwick and Pasadena Poly.

Last season, Flintridge Prep won the Prep League, a Division III title and made an appearance in the Southern California Regional Division III final.

Taking over the program as coach of the Pioneers is Adam Yassaman.

“It is a good group of kids and they’ve had a lot of success the past few years,” Yassaman said. “So, I think that makes my job as coach a little easier not having to rebuild from scratch.

“I just have to come in and kind of say ‘what our next challenge.’ It is a really easy group to coach; they work hard, they want to get better and they have taken my coaching well. I have girls of all different levels, so it’s a matter of challenging some of the newer player a little differently then I might challenge a player with more experience.”

One of the top returners for the Pioneers is sophomore forward Orla Dempsey. Last season, Dempsey led the team with nine goals to go along with six assists and was named the Liberty League Player of the Year.

Three other all-league returnees are sophomore midfielder Cecile Habash, sophomore center-back Kylee Obermeyer and senior center-back Shannon Walsh.

Habash proved to be an offensive threat for the Pioneers, tallying eight goals and adding seven assists, while Obermeyer had two goals and Walsh contributed a goal and an assist.

“We have a mix of players who are returning and who have had that success with the program,” Yassaman said. “Then I have a couple of girls who are coming out from other sports and who might not have played last year. It’s a nine mix of returning players and some new players, who will hopefully be helped from the players coming back.”

Yassaman said he’s hoping his team will be ready once league play begins.

“I think we will be able to compete in the Prep League,” he said. “But there is one or two teams in that league who are going to be very, very tough.”

BURBANK

The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 1-13-2 overall and were 0-10-2 in the Pacific League, finishing seventh.

“I’m really excited about this season,” Burbank coach Pablo Diaz said. “We started early and the girls have been really working hard to get better.

“Last season was a little bit disappointing for us and definitely not what we wanted. But the girls really want to improve on what we did last year and the have been moving in that right direction. We have five or six players who graduated, but we have some good new players who have come in.”

Burbank will have three captains in senior goalkeeper Ashley Im, senior defender Isabel Partida and senior center/midfielder.Jessica Rocha, who earned All-Pacific League honors last season.

“Those three we will look to for leadership,” Diaz said. “I don’t want to mention any other players until they are more secure and more confident in their positions. Also, I want them to earn their stripes. We pretty much have the lineup set already.”

In league, Diaz expects to face teams with their share of talent.

“I do anticipate it to be a tough league again,” he said. “But I think we will have better results in league than we did last year … Our goal for this year is to make the playoffs. That’s why they have been working so hard; they know we have to make the playoffs this year.”

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