LA CRESCENTA — With a combined two wins, the Burbank High and Crescenta Valley boys’ soccer teams didn’t exactly vault into Pacific League play Friday with a great deal of momentum behind them.
But it was evident early on that the squads were ready to put a disappointing nonleague campaign behind them, as the Bulldogs and Falcons each scored a goal in the opening seven minutes of the match at Crescenta Valley.
But thereafter, Burbank couldn’t capitalize on a wealth of scoring opportunities, the Falcons controlled the midfield and the Bulldogs suffered through their share of defensive lapses.
It also helped that Crescenta Valley received four goals from Pavle Atanackovic and four assists from Alex Berger, which helped it earn a 5-1 win against the Bulldogs.
Crescenta Valley Coach Kiel McClung said his team didn’t get discouraged after finishing the nonleague season with a 1-1-2 record.
“We played some very good teams prior to opening league,” McClung said. “The idea was to play good competition in hopes it would set us up for league. Doing well in league is the most important thing to us.”
Atanackovic said he is pleased with the way his team came out against Burbank (1-4-4).
“We have a lot of players back from last year and we have a very good team chemistry,” said Atanackovic, who has scored nine goals. “We think we have a better team than we had last season.”
The Falcons (2-1-2) won the Pacific League championship last season, while the Bulldogs finished last.
The Bulldogs definitely had their problems against the Falcons. The hosts continually controlled the ball at midfield, and the Burbank defense committed mistakes in its own end that led to Crescenta Valley goals.
“It’s one of those games where I really can’t be mad about it,” Burbank Coach Frank Chavez said. “We just have to go back and figure out what we are doing wrong. It’s just one game — I’m not going to stress about it.”
Berger got things rolling for Crescenta Valley in the sixth minute, taking advantage of a Burbank mistake to score the game’s first goal.
But Burbank came roaring back just one minute later, as Michael Alcaraz blasted a goal to tie the contest at 1.
The Bulldogs manufactured at least six prime scoring opportunities in the first half, but except for Alcaraz’s effort, the rest were futile.
“That is very frustrating for players,” Chavez said. “When you get scoring opportunities like that and you can’t score, it kind of really brings them down and they get discouraged. That’s why we didn’t play as [well] in the second half.”
Atanackovic scored his first goal in the 24th minute, as the Falcons took a 2-1 advantage into halftime.
It was all Crescenta Valley in the second half. Atanackovic found the net in the 55th minute, again in the 63rd minute and again in the 68th minute to give the Falcons a comfortable cushion.