BURBANK HIGH — The Burbank High boys’ soccer team came out motivated and dictated play in the first half Wednesday in a nonleague match against Simi Valley.
However, the Bulldogs had nothing to show for their efforts in the first 40 minutes, which included them hitting the post twice. In contrast, the Pioneers had one legitimate scoring opportunity in the first half and they made good on the chance to take a one-goal lead into halftime.
Not giving in to their frustrations, the Bulldogs came battling back in the second half, as their persistence paid off with two goals in the first four minutes, giving Burbank the momentum it would need to go on to notch a 3-1 home victory.
“I told the guys at halftime that I know that they are frustrated and I know we should have some goals by now,” said Burbank Coach Loi Phan, who is in his first year as boys’ coach after coming over from the girls’ program. “I told them just to keep it together and let’s just come storming out in the first 10 minutes of the second and see what happens.”
Jonathan Trujillo scored two goals, including the game-winner, to key the comeback effort for the Bulldogs first win of the season.
Phan took over a program that had its share of difficulties last season. The Bulldogs had discipline problems and their aggressive play led to a rash of red cards and suspensions of their players.
Burbank even endured sanctions from the CIF Southern Section, one of which limited the program to just two nonleague matches this season.
But Phan said he has gotten rid of the problem individuals from a year ago and the Bulldogs players have seen a difference.
“We were not very disciplined last season and players would just yell at each other and get mad when something went wrong,” senior midfielder David Hacobian said. “But it’s a lot different this year. We are more like a team and there’s not the fighting.”
The win improved Burbank to 1-1 and served as the team’s final nonleague contest of the season. Because of the sanctions, the Bulldogs will be off for almost four weeks until they open Pacific League play Jan. 3.
Phan said he doesn’t think the actions of last year’s team should have ultimately affected this year’s squad.
“I personally don’t think it’s fair,” Phan said. “First of all, I’m a new coach and a lot of the kids from last year, the troublemakers, have left. But now these kids this year have to pay for it. We are going to be very rusty for league.”
Burbank began the match against Simi Valley (0-2) with a wealth of scoring opportunities in the opening half. In addition, the Bulldogs defense kept the Pioneers from mounting any scoring opportunities through the first 13 minutes.
But the Pioneers hit pay dirt in the 22nd minute when Trevor Kuehnel scored following a corner kick.
Down, 1-0, starting the second half, Burbank’s Dennis Palacio wasted little time scoring the equalizer when he tallied a goal off an assist from Christian Garcia.
Just three minutes later, Trujillo put Burbank ahead, 2-1, when he found the back of the net on a booming free kick that sailed 35 yards and fluttered over the head of Pioneers’ keeper Joe Hoffman.
Teammate Ramon Cortez then hit an even-longer shot in the 71st minute, this time a towering 40-yard effort that ended up in the upper-right corner of the goal.
“Our goal this year is we want to battle people,” Phan said. “We want to just play soccer and we want to compete the right way. I think the guys fought hard and I was happy with the way they played.”