South Pasadena soccer uses second-half push to defeat Burbank

BURBANK — The South Pasadena boys' soccer team was already fully entrenched in its season when it took on Burbank on Tuesday, having played two matches and posting two shutouts.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, came into the contest with no game experience. Burbank was scheduled to play Monrovia to open its campaign last week, but the match had to be postponed.

Despite the lack of experience, the Bulldogs only trailed by one goal after the first half. However, defensive lapses proved to be Burbank's downfall in the second half, as the Tigers were able to capitalize on the mistakes and roll to a 6-0 nonleague victory at Burbank.

The Tigers (3-0) dominated play in the second half, controlling the midfield and affording Burbank very few offensive opportunities. In addition, South Pasadena continually pushed the ball up into Burbank territory and its forwards routinely dropped back to help out on defense.

"Our forwards also work as defenders for us," South Pasadena Coach Juan Zurita said. "I thought what helped us is that we made some adjustments in the midfield in the second half. We just left three in the back and put five in the midfield and actually pushed three up. They really started moving the ball on the ground and that's when the game started going our way in the second half."

South Pasadena, which took third in the Rio Hondo League last season, has yet to be scored upon in its first three matches, outscoring its opponents, 13-0.

"They are a good team, there's no doubt about that, and they were a lot more experienced in the midfield than we were," Burbank Coach Loi Phan said about the Tigers.

"I really think we laid down and gave up, and I haven't said that about any of my teams in a long time. But for us to play the way that we did, I thought we pretty much quit. That's the best way I can describe it."

The Tigers received two goals from junior forward Heven Gomez.

It didn’t take long for Gomez and South Pasadena to strike, as the junior scored a goal just four minutes into the game. Justin Gutierrez controlled the ball on the right side and dribbled in on Burbank starting goalkeeper Galust Galstyan. While the keeper came out to cut down the angle, Gutierrez lofted a high shot over Galstyan’s head. The ball went to Justin Fernendez and over to Gomez, who tapped it into an empty net.

Galstyan was injured on the play and had to leave the game. He was replaced by Arias Teimoorian.

Burbank's best chance in the first half came in the 26th minute. Senior forward Dennis Palacio squeezed through two defenders and had a clear shot from 20 yards out. However, his shot attempt went wide left.

With a 1-0 lead heading into the second half, the Tigers added to their tally in the 47th minute when Cuauhtemoc Garcia-Rodriguez scored on a hard shot from the left side.

The Tigers made it 3-0 six minutes later when Gomez hit pay dirt for his second goal of the afternoon.

"Our goal was to shut them out in the second half and not give them the opportunities," Gomez said. "We were just able to have good touches today and we were able to move the ball around. ...I'm liking the success that we've had so far this season."

With the Tigers continuing to heap on the offensive pressure in the second half, the team received a goal from Zack Dunn in the 56 minute, a goal from Daniel Zurita in the 64th minute and Ramon Gutierrez finished up the scoring with a tally in the 80th minute.

The Bulldogs set up a good scoring chance in the 70th minute when Giovanni Gomez got behind the South Pasadena defense, worked the ball up the left side and had a clear shot at the goal. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the offering sailed high and wide right.

"That first goal in the first half killed us," Phan said. "But then we dribble the ball in front of their goalie four times and they get goals? That just shouldn't happen. I don't think they had many assists in the game, we gave them all their assists."

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