BURBANK — Two teams coming off vastly different 2012-13 campaigns met in an early season tilt Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Burroughs Ralph Brandt Boys' Soccer tournament at Memorial Field
Whether the defending Pacific League champion Burroughs High has taken a step back after losing three All-CIF Southern Section players to graduation, or Canyon, who finished last in the Foothill League, has improved, remains to be seen.
But on Friday night, in Burroughs' 0-0 (4-1 penalty kicks) victory, the two were about as evenly matched as any pairing in the 15-team tournament.
That was until penalty kicks, when Andres Aguilar beat Canyon goalkeeper Niko Nuyda to the top left to send Burroughs on to the semifinals.
"The guys played well. A lot of nice plays defensively for Canyon," said Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama. "They were really good in the back third and their goalie was outstanding. We got better in the second half."
Burroughs came out in the second with more intensity, pushing forward and turning things into a back-and-forth affair down the stretch.
The Indians came agonizingly close to taking the lead early in the second half, when Canyon sweeper Tristan Rochow cleared away a header off the line that looked destined for the back of the net.
Canyon (2-2-1) took advantage of a Burroughs midfield missing Pacific League Player of the Year Brian Arzate and fellow All-CIF honoree Manny Celio — who both graduated — with a strong, possession-oriented game plan that moved the ball through to speedy forward Aram Kzarian.
The Cowboys are familiar with rebuilding, too, looking for more offense this year after losing its top offensive threat in Chad Ybarra to graduation.
"With this team, this loss was a good loss," Nuyda said. "It wasn't a victory, but it was better than a loss. Burroughs is a good team."
Burroughs (4-0) provided a contrast to the Cowboys, sending the ball through to its own skilled front line of Ashot Veisyan and Milosh Petko, who used their skill up top to create multiple opportunities for the Indians against Nuyda, who notched seven saves.
"Different styles," Kodama said. "[Canyon] came to play. They had to press every ball. If they gave us an inch we would go right through it. They were playing to counter."
Indians' keeper Alberto Muir matched Nuyda's shutout in regulation with four saves, and came up big in penalty kicks — picking up two saves in three attempts to secure the victory.
"It shows the experience," Kodama said. "We have a lot of returning players, they've done this before. And Alberto's outstanding."
Burroughs advances to the semifinals where it will take on El Camino Real of Woodland Hills at Burroughs on Saturday at 7 p.m.