BURBANK HIGH — The Burbank High and La Cañada girls' soccer teams share the same distinctions this season.
Along with both squads being young, they also have their share of freshman players, a number of whom have been starters. While Burbank has six freshmen — three getting starts Friday — and no juniors, the Spartans have five freshmen and three juniors.
The Bulldogs and Spartans pitted their youthful teams against one another Friday in a nonleague match at Burbank High. Playing in blustery conditions, Burbank was able to come on in the second half to earn a 4-1 victory.
With the teams playing to a tight one-goal game in the first half, the Bulldogs (2-2) went against the wind in the second half, which Burbank Coach Loi Phan said benefited his squad
"In the first half we were playing with the wind," he said. "The problem was when we would pass the ball the wind wound catch it and our passes were going too long. But in the second half we had the wind to our faces, and we were able to pass the ball a lot better."
Phan said he told his team at halftime that the second half would be more beneficial to it.
"I told them to be patient, and that they would play a lot better in the second half than they did in the first half," Phan said. "And that's what happened."
La Cañada Coach Louie Bilowitz said it has been an ongoing project getting his new players acclimated to his system this season.
"This is the youngest and most inexperienced team I've probably ever coached," Bilowitz said. "It just takes time for them to understand and implement the things we're doing. But I think that they should be improved enough by the time we open up league."
One of the highlights for the Spartans (3-3) this season has been the play of junior goalkeeper Haley Austin, who was kept busy against the Bulldogs.
"Because of our inexperience, she's had to make a lot of saves for us in games this year," Bilowitz said.
She made 10 against Burbank.
The Bulldogs got their offense rolling early, scoring in the third minute. Clarissa Guerrero dribbled the ball up the right side and made a nice cross to Alexandra Amela, who was streaking toward the goal. Amela caught up to the offering and kicked it into the net for the score.
The Burbank defense had a hiccup midway through the first half, letting La Cañada's Megan Siepler score in the 21st minute to tie the score at 1.
"Sometimes it's not good to score a goal so fast like we did," Phan said. "When you do that the girls tend to let up, thinking they will be able to score more like that. But as you saw, the goals didn't come as easily after that."
The Bulldogs were able to take a 2-1 lead in the 22nd minute when Anabell Gonzalez blasted home a goal.
The Burbank defense stepped up in the second half, holding La Cañada to few legitimate scoring opportunities. However, the team's offense wasn't able to add to the lead.
The Bulldogs had a wealth of opportunities in the second half; as they had shots just miss the goal, others that hit the goalpost and one that dribbled over the crossbar.
"We couldn't buy a goal," Phan said.
The squad's persistence finally paid off, and Burbank was able to get some breathing room in the 75th minute. Gonzalez struck again, making good on a hard shot from the left of the goal.
Courtney Austin added a goal in the 79th minute.
With Burbank opening Pacific League play Wednesday against defending champion Crescenta Valley, Phan said the win against La Cañada was important.
"We were on a two-game losing streak coming into the match," Phan said. "We wanted to have a good showing and hopefully carry that on to CV on Wednesday."
Burbank goalkeeper Katie Hooper had six saves in gaining the win.