BURBANK — From the first match of the season until the conclusion on Saturday afternoon, Burroughs High girls' water polo Coach Danny Garcia saw marked improvement from his team — along with unprecedented success.
The Indians won 20 matches for the first time in the program's history, vied for a share of the Pacific League championship and reached the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
"We had a great season," said Garcia, who saw it end Saturday following a 10-5 home loss against fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley. "As we started winning in the Burbank Tournament, in league and then in the playoffs, you could see us getting more focused and we were contenders.
"We earned the right to be here [in the quarterfinals]."
Burroughs finished its season 20-5. Redlands East Valley improved to 27-3 and will meet top-seeded Bonita in a semifinal match at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
Burroughs, which finished second in the Pacific League behind third-seeded Crescenta Valley, was met by a band of disciplined Redlands East Valley defenders, who forced numerous turnovers and two shot clock violations. With Redlands East Valley's swarming defense attacking the Indians, Burroughs could not find another way to trim the deficit.
"Defense is the plan because it sets up our offense well," said Redlands East Valley Coach Troy Delmonico, whose team won the Citrus Belt League championship and will make its second consecutive appearance in the semifinals. "We normally start strong, but we had the long bus ride. We started to get warmed up and then going in the second quarter."
After the Indians knotted the game at 2 on a goal by Erika Green with 6:43 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats then scored three goals in a two-minute span midway through the quarter to take a 5-2 advantage. Alexis Wieseler scored on a five-meter shot to make it 3-2 with 5:47 left before Mikayla Vessey made it 4-2 at the 4:16 mark. Maddy Wieseler completed the surge with 3:47 remaining.
A goal by Savannah Simmons brought Burroughs to within 5-3 with 2:56 left before Alexis Wieseler and Allie Wieseler scored 59 seconds apart late in the first half to give the Wildcats a 7-3 halftime lead.
Redlands East Valley registered an 18-2 opening-round win against visiting La Sierra on Wednesday.
"That's a great team and a physical team," said Garcia, who received 12 saves from goalkeeper Ahsha Earwood. "They are a fantastic team and my team didn't quit. We had some unlucky shots that hit off the inside of the posts."
Ten seconds into the third quarter, Burroughs' Sam Buliavac made it 7-4. Vessey restored Redlands East Valley's four-goal advantage with 2:09 left before Simmons capitalized on a man-advantage opportunity to help the Indians close to within 8-5 with 1:22 left in the third stanza.
Lyndsey Blake and Maddy Wieseler scored goals midway through the fourth quarter to close out the match.
Vessey and Alexis Wieseler paced the Wildcats with three goals apiece. Hollinrake finished with 11 saves.
Burroughs, which began the playoffs Wednesday with an 11-6 home win against Elsinore, received two goals each from Simmons and Buliavac.
"The main thing was that they knew how to get back on offense when we missed a shot," Earwood said. "We did pretty good [competing] against them.
"It's been an awesome year for us."