Francisco Baez was an invaluable member of a Burroughs High boys’ soccer team that was able to turn its season around.
Beginning the year with a 1-5-1 record, the program’s worst start since 1985, the Indians came on during Pacific League competition and finished second behind a strong Crescenta Valley squad that went on to win a CIF Southern Section Division III championship.
Baez helped lead the turnaround, breaking the program record for goals in league and putting together a string of high-scoring results.
For his efforts, the senior midfielder was voted to the CIF Southern Section Division III first team. In addition, teammate Kevin Garcia, a senior defender, was a second-team All-CIF selection and senior defender Ozzie Castro made the third team.
Baez ended the season with 18 goals and nine assists. In league play, he scored all 18 to set a new season mark for scores in the Pacific League. In addition, Baez had a four-goal effort against Hoover and scored three or more goals in three games, setting a Burroughs season record.
“If you can believe it, he didn’t score any goals in the preseason,” Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama said of Baez. “Then all of a sudden we hit league and he started scoring, and we end up having a guy who sets a school record for league goals in a season. Taking into consideration all the good players we’ve had come through the program over the years, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.”
Castro was one of only two players to start all of Burroughs’ 23 matches and was a steadying influence. Garcia also started all of the team’s games, as he was moved from a central midfielder to an outside beck.
Baez, Garcia and Castro also earned All-Pacific League first-team accolades for the Indians.
Twenty-six All-CIF awards have been won by Kodama’s players during his tenure. Kodama took over the program this season after stepping down in 2009, following a first stint with Burroughs that lasted 22 years.
The Indians (10-9-4, 8-3-3 in league) played their best during the second half of the Pacific League, but they just couldn’t defeat the talented Falcons in two matches. Burroughs won its first-round playoff contest against Mayfair, 2-1, on the road. The Indians lost in the second round, however, to Santa Monica, 2-0.
“We were able to do pretty well in league despite really having a new squad,” said Kodama, whose team lost its share of players to graduation last season. “They guys really stepped up, even though some of them had never been on varsity before.”