LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Although having given up two goals in four matches of its own Burroughs Ralph Brandt Soccer Tournament, the Burroughs boys’ team wasn’t playing for the tourney championship Monday evening.
The Indians saw that chance go by the wayside with a one-goal loss Saturday to El Camino Real on Saturday.
“That’s the worst we’ve played in awhile,” Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama said of the 1-0 setback at Memorial Field. “We just didn’t play well at all.”
The loss left the Indians to play for third place against Sylmar. But Burroughs took full advantage of its opportunity, and despite missing a penalty kick in the opening minutes, the Indians scored twice in the second half to notch a 3-1 victory against the Spartans at St. Francis High.
The third-place finish is the best showing for the Indians (5-1) in their own tournament since 2007, when they also placed third.
“We would have liked to be playing for the championship, but we knew that got away from us after Saturday’s loss,” Kodama said. “But I was happy with the effort of the boys today and I thought we played well.
“I thought we came back and played a lot better in this one than we played against El Camino.”
The Indians were taking on a Sylmar (6-2) squad that was playing its second match of the day. In the afternoon, the Spartans opened league competition with a 2-1 win against San Fernando.
The early game obligation prompted the Spartans to arrive late for the matchup with Burroughs. That didn’t allow Sylmar any warmup time.
The Indians, on the other hand, came out fresh and energized in the early minutes of the match.
Burroughs saw its first opportunity to score come early, in the fourth minute, when Sylmar was called for a hand-ball just outside the Indians’ box. Ashot Veisyan lined up for the attempt, but powered the ball over the crossbar.
“When you miss something like a penalty shot you have to just shake it off and come back,” Burroughs junior midfielder Andres Aguilar said. “You can’t just stand around and think about it, you have to go on.”
And that’s what the Indians did, getting a boost off the bench from junior midfielder Saul Zepeda. In the 23rd minute, Zepeda got the ball on the left side 50 yards out from the Sylmar goal. He dribbled and lofted a long ball that angled toward the net. Streaking down the middle was Veisyan, who caught up to the ball and flicked the offering from 20 yards out, as the ball angled into the net for a goal.
“I thought I might have sent it too hard and that he wasn’t going to be able to catch up to it,” Zepeda said. “But he did.”
The Spartans were able to score the equalizer in the 27th minute off a goal by Jorge Lopez.
The teams went into halftime tied at 1.
It didn’t take much time in the second half for Burroughs to break the stalemate. In the 45th minute, Aguilar got the ball in the middle of the field outside the Sylmar box and blasted a shot. The offering banked off a Spartans defender and took a wicked angle into the net for a goal that put the Indians in front, 2-1.
Sylmar had its share of opportunities in the second half. However, the attempts were either off the mark or stopped by Burroughs goalkeeper Alberto Meir (nine saves).
The Indians were able to create some breathing room in the 64th minute on a goal by Zepeda. Aguilar got the ball on the right side and delivered a perfect pass to Zepeda in the middle, who one-timed it and beat the Sylmar goalkeeper.
“Saul just works very, very hard and that was a great goal by him,” Kodama said. “He is an outstanding person and he plays in whatever role we ask of him. We have him playing a lot on the left side because he works so hard. It was nice to see him have the success that he had today.”
After the Zepeda goal that put the Indians in front, 3-1, the Spartans didn’t have much success at generating offensive opportunities the remainder of the match.
Two Burroughs players, senior defender Nick Lucero, and senior forward/midfielder Brandon Gerlach, were named to the all-tournament team.