LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It was a battle of flourishing programs when the Burbank High and La Cañada girls’ soccer teams squared off.
Coming into Thursday’s nonleague contest at La Cañada, the Bulldogs and Spartans combined for nine wins and just one loss this season.
Although the Spartans had some prime scoring chances in the first half, neither team could put the ball in goal. However, that changed in the second half when La Cañada stepped up its game and turned back Burbank in a 2-1 victory.
La Cañada (6-1) — ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division IV — has been outshot and outplayed in a number of matches this season. But to the young team’s credit, it has been able to win all but one of those matches.
“It definitely wasn’t a pretty game,” Spartans Coach Louis Bilowitz said. “It was probably our most undisciplined game that we’ve had. But that’s the result sometimes when you have a young team; we’re not going to be able to play pretty every game. But to their credit, they found a way to win.”
La Cañada, which has just five players who are juniors or seniors, has only lost to Pasadena Poly, 4-2.
Like Bilowitz, first-year Burbank Coach Eric Montoya felt his team didn’t play its best Tuesday.
“This was our worst game, our worst game,” said Montoya, whose team slipped to 4-1. “Our shape was terrible and we were out of position and we got into their style of game, which was playing the long ball. We just haven’t been playing like that this season.”
The teams took part in a defensive battle in the first half, with neither squad able to mount any legitimate scoring opportunity during the first 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs were able to keep the match scoreless during the first 40 minutes partly because of the play of sophomore Michelle Morales, who stopped two potential goals from going in.
La Cañada’s best scoring chance came in the 31st minute. The Spartans’ Katrina Ritticher dribbled the ball toward the goal and Burbank’s keeper, Sarah Rangwala, came out to make the save. Ritticher made a move around the goalkeeper and had a clear shot at an open goal. But Morales came in from the side and knocked the ball away.
Seven minutes earlier, Morales kicked away a shot deep in the Bulldogs’ zone on a breakaway.
“She was awesome and she played awesome,” Montoya said of Morales. “She saved those goals.”
La Cañada was finally able to break through in the second half. In the 52nd minute, the Burbank goalkeeper got into trouble when she hit the ground and the Spartans had an open shot at the net. But the Bulldogs’ Natalie Muller fell on the ball, prompting a penalty kick. The Spartans’ Olivia Layva made good on the attempt, beating the keeper low and to the left.
The Spartans increased their advantage to 2-0 in the 59th minute. Megan Decker got the ball on the left side and moved it deep into the Burbank area. Rangwala came out to cut down the angle and the two players collided. However, Decker was able to flick the ball past the keeper and the offering trickled into the goal.
“I don’t know if I would like them to play better and not win so much,” Bilowitz said. “But they’re a great group and they are trying their best.”
Burbank was able to score in the 61st minute. Following a shot on goal by the Bulldogs, the ball landed near Lauren Brenn who powered a shot past La Cañada goalkeeper Haley Austin.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the score in extra time, but an attempt by Alessia Dal Monte went wide left.