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La Cañada boys' soccer shuts out Burbank in season opener

LA CAÑADA — For the La Cañada High boys’ soccer team, it was about pressure.

For the Burbank High boys’ soccer team, it was about chemistry.

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In the season-opener for both teams at La Cañada on Tuesday, the Spartans sent a message early, controlled much of the match and kept the Bulldogs on their toes.

La Cañada defeated Burbank, 3-0, in a nonleague contest behind fine efforts from senior Will Chant and captain Kai Gill.

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“The most positive part of the game was the intensity,” La Cañada coach Bruno Costa said. “I’ve been talking to them about how important it is to play intense and work very hard regardless of the result, regardless of the opponent and I saw that happen today.”

Chant scored the Spartans’ first goal on a volley in the first minute of play after La Cañada had sent the ball into the penalty area off a throw-in.

He notched his second score after central defender Chris Kim sent a through ball down the middle to the forward, who tucked the ball in the bottom right corner for a 2-0 La Cañada lead in the 34th minute.

“I felt the team played great given that we have a lot of players that can’t play because they’re playing in club tournaments,” Chant said. “I thought a lot of the guys stepped up, especially some of the younger guys playing their first game.”

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Burbank coach Loi Phan attributed to the team’s struggles Tuesday to his squad’s youth, inexperience and short preseason practices.

“We played a good team and I have a bunch of young guys, but I was working towards more of a scrimmage to see who’s who because I’ve really never seen anyone play, like I said, this is all on me,” Phan said.

“There’s a lot of positive out in the first game. They’re a good team, so it’s a good scrimmage for us.”

The Spartans exploited the Bulldogs on the left wing in the first half and made five chances off of crosses in the area, but couldn’t capitalize on any of the opportunities.

As the La Cañada pressure waned in the first 40 minutes, Burbank saw life with its own off-the-ball pressure and had two chances off of free-kick opportunities in the 15th and 17th minute, but both chances were struck high.

In total, La Cañada struck 18 shots with 11 on goal, compared to Burbank’s eight shots with two on target.

The silver-lining for Burbank, however, came from senior goalkeeper Christian Ramos, whose five saves in the second half kept La Cañada to just one goal. The senior also saved four point-blank shots within the penalty area.

“I told him he chickened out on the second goal he gave up,” Phan said. “I told him when a goalie comes out, he makes his presence known to intimidate the striker and [Ramos] froze up. I told him ‘if you did that again, you’ll never play for me. Show me in the second half or you don’t play for me.’ [Then] he made four-point blank shots.”

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Indeed, the second-half play picked up for both teams.

Burbank saw a few chances go its way, including a perfect opportunity in the 46th minute as the Bulldogs slotted home the ball only for La Cañada defender Daniel Landesman to make a goal-line save and protect the Spartans’ clean sheet.

From then, the Spartans weaved their way in the Bulldogs’ final third on seven occasions. Four of those came toward Gill in the left flank and three of which Ramos kept out of the back of the net.

But in the 58th minute, La Cañada midfielder Arian Shapourifar sent a through ball to Gill on the left wing in which he cut in and got the best of Ramos for a Spartans 3-0 lead.

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