The players from the Burbank One Under-16 girls' AYSO team knew the Section 10 playoffs would be the end of the line for them.
If the local team won the tournament, it would have a chance at playing for state or even national titles. However, because many of the athletes also play for area high school soccer programs, they would have to leave their AYSO squad after the sectionals in order to join their prep squads for the beginning of the season.
But Burbank One, a team of 14- and 15-year-olds, made the most of its opportunity, winning its second straight Section 10 championship.
Burbank won the title while besting teams from Los Angeles and Ventura counties to Fresno. More than 1,600 athletes participate in the Burbank AYSO each year.
Organized in two-year age brackets along gender lines, Burbank One was crowned champion of the San Fernando Valley area in late October, earning the right to compete in the Section 10 championships held November 12-13 in Bakersfield.
After posting a perfect record (14-0) in league play and the area playoffs throughout the San Fernando Valley, Burbank One earned the right to advance to sectional tournament.
The playoff format included three games in pool play that was followed by semifinal and final matches for the top teams in each pool.
Burbank One was immediately challenged by a rematch of last year's final against Agoura Hills in the opening contest. After battling to a scoreless draw through nearly the whole match, Agoura Hills scored on Burbank with five minutes remaining in the match and handed the team its first defeat of the season, 1-0.
But Burbank One came back, outscoring their remaining pool-play opponents — Castaic and Carpinteria — 9-0. As the second-place team in its pool behind Agoura Hills, Burbank played Victorville in a semifinal contest. Just two minutes into the game, Burbank striker Clarissa Guerrero stunned Victorville with a goal from a seemingly impossible angle on the back line. The rout was well on by halftime, 3-0, leading to a final score of 6-0, which included a score by goalkeeper Taylor Bailey.
The final match was a replay of last year's championship with Burbank One matched up against Agoura Hills. Burbank left-winger Juliana Marx began the scoring, getting behind Agoura's defense and slotting a goal into the corner of the net.
Within two minutes, Agoura tied the score at 1 with a shot that just made it under the crossbar from more than 30 yards out. Undaunted, Burbank midfielder Michelle Morales drove a lofted shot of her own at the Agoura goal that the Agoura's keeper caught, but was driven back into the net by the force of the shot, resulting in another goal for Burbank.
Another goal from Guerrero, and the Burbank enjoyed a 3-1 lead at the half. After struggling to overcome its two-goal deficit, Agoura's fate was sealed when Burbank defender Hayley Woolsey drove in a goal following a set piece en rout to a 4-1 win.
The Burbank team also includes: Kelly Arrue, Taylor Austin, Samantha Castro, Alexandra Lopez, Kristin Masuzumi, Emily McKernan, Julia Newton, Victoria Perez, Dulce Quintanilla, Sarah Rivera, Victoria Rondinella, Allison Tiegs and Angela Ziemer.