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Crescenta Valley, Burroughs boys' soccer play to league draw

BURBANK — An early boys’ soccer showdown between defending Pacific League champion Crescenta Valley High and runner-up Burroughs lived up to each teams’ expectations at Memorial Field on Tuesday.

The host Indians dominated possession and play in the first half, but the Falcons stormed back in the second to control the rest of the contest.

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In the end, Crescenta Valley and Burroughs shared the spoils as their first Pacific League matchup ended in a 1-1 draw after a 49th-minute equalizer drew the Falcons level with the Indians.

“I thought the boys played well,” Burroughs coach Mike Kodama said. “[Crescenta Valley is] so dangerous on the counter. They had two or three opportunities in the first half and didn’t finish, but they got the one on the [right wing] there and finished. We expected a battle and it’s a 1-1 battle.”

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Burroughs (4-2-1 overall, 2-0-1 in league) scored an early goal in the 10th minute off a corner kick.

On the set piece, the ball bounced around in the box to junior forward David Gerlach, who blasted a shot down the middle for a goal and a 1-0 Burroughs lead.

The Falcons struggled to find their offense in the first half and nearly equalized in the 42nd minute as senior winger Caleb Abad picked out a pass for a shot that went wide right to the opposite corner of the net.

But seven minutes later, junior midfielder Jesus Peña got the ball to Abad deep in the midfield and he scored on the Crescenta Valley counter-attack that made it a 1-1 score.

“That was a really big chance,” said Abad on his first-shot opportunity. “It could’ve gotten us back in the game early, so I just knew I needed to put in the next shot I take.”

Though Crescenta Valley (3-2-2, 1-0-2) had its chances — like an opportunity with an open net in the 38th minute that went wide — the Falcons were being outplayed on possession and aerial duels.

“I don’t think you could have had two, more different halves,” Crescenta Valley coach Grant Clark said. “First half, we came out flat, they dominated, they controlled the ball and did pretty much whatever they wanted. We couldn’t win a header, we couldn’t win a second ball — they had everything. Fortunately, we were able to get away with one-nil deficit.”

The equalizer was the first league goal Burroughs conceded after the Indians won a pair of 3-0 matches against Glendale and Muir.

“In a game like this that has an even flow, you just have to make sure your shape is good defensively and then when the opportunity arises, you have to take advantage of it,” Kodama said.

“We had our chances, too, we just couldn’t put it away today. That’s just part of the game.”

Though a draw was a positive result for Crescenta Valley, the team has some work to do to starting picking up league wins, Clark said.

“That’s something that we have to fix is that first half,” Clark said. “Last week against Pasadena, tonight against Burroughs — that’s two games in a row. It’s got to be fixed.

“We really needed them to raise that level, defensively, to get to the ball quicker, to be tighter on the player, to just take an intense step forward, so as a coach I was very pleased to see that in the second half. It’s a credit to the boys to be down one goal at Burroughs and to come back and tie; it would be nice to get the three points, but I’d rather walk away with one than zero.”

The Falcons had a decent, six-minute possession after conceding the opening goal as Peña gave the visitors their first real opportunity with a shot that was saved in the 16th minute.

The Indians immediately regrouped as sophomore winger Manny Gonzalez spearheaded the attack for two opportunities inside the box late in the first half that were saved and hit over the bar.

As the match was winding down in the tense final minutes, Crescenta Valley picked up a pair of free kicks outside the Burroughs penalty area, but both chances were squandered.

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