BURBANK — With a two-goal advantage in the second half, it might have looked to most that a victory for the Crescenta Valley High girls' soccer team over Burbank was all but in the books.
First-year Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz wasn't one of those people, however, as she prognosticated that her team would need two second-half goals to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
"I knew they were gonna come out hard in the second half," Schulz said. "I think we were ready for them. [No.] 9 just beat us."
No. 9 was Burbank senior standout Annabell Gonzalez, who scored two second-half goals to rally the Bulldogs to a 2-2 tie against the visiting Falcons in the Pacific League opener for both teams that was up for grabs until the final seconds.
"If you look at the first half, it's a good tie," said Burbank Coach Loi Phan, whose team finished second behind Crescenta Valley in last season's league standings. "We had a lot of chances, we just didn't put it away."
The match's last chance was had by Crescenta Valley (2-3-2), however, as Dani Busta crossed a pass to Jordan Royer, who got off a hard shot only to have it carom off the post. Moments later, Busta took one last desperation shot that went out of bounds. After Burbank (2-2-1) played the ball back in, the whistle blew.
"I can't believe that didn't go in," Schulz said of Royer's attempt.
Goals by Whitley Boller in the first half and Katie Callister in the second half forged a 2-0 Falcons lead, but Gonzalez scored off a throw-in to cut the lead in half before tying the match on an unbelievable shot from the right side that she crossed on a line into the far corner of the net.
Burbank was the first to be left scratching its head, though.
In the fifth minute of play, Gonzalez took CV defender Mallory Carcich on one-on-one and Carcich stole the ball, but got turned around and Gonzalez took it right back. With Carcich on her hip, Gonzalez had a step and was one-on-one with Falcons goalie Jessi Magallon, who challenged and was able to deflect a low shot for a save. Not long after, Burbank's Maddie Carlborg had a shot on an exposed net off a throw-in, but popped the shot up and over the crossbar.
CV then took an early lead in the 10th minute when Boller booted in a low shot off a throw-in. Boller scored the goal, but it was made possible by Sarah Worden. Worden, a defender, stole possession and dribbled past three Bulldogs to lead to a corner kick. Worden's ensuing corner got through to Boller, who was positioned in the middle of the box and booted home a perfect shot.
The Falcons extended their lead to 2-0 in the 51st minute when Sierra Rhoads dribbled in on the right side and passed left over to Callister who tapped in a point-blank shot that Burbank goalie Katie Hooper deflected, but was unable to secure.
Hooper had two saves, while Magallon had six, with CV holding a 13-10 shot advantage, though the advantage in scoring chances was in the favor of the Bulldogs.
Despite her game-breaking play in the second half, Gonzalez was on the bench for much of the first half.
"Basically, she wasn't working hard," Phan said. "And then in the second half, she stepped it up and she played like the player she can be.
"We put a lot of pressure on her. We count on her."
Gonzalez' presence played havoc from the beginning of the second half as she made an immediate run down the right side before crossing a pass that went awry. Moments later, she was streaking down the field again and found Clarissa Guerrero. Busta came onto the scene, however, forcing a quick shot that Magallon easily saved.
Burbank finally cashed in on a throw-in, as Alexandra Amela threw a ball onto frame that was headed by Katie Beattie. The header hit the post and bounced right at the feet of Gonzalez, who promptly tapped in an easy goal.
Gonzalez then scored the equalizer in the 60th minute.
For both teams going forward, it's clear there were positives and negatives to take from the match, but improving en route to contending for the league crown is crucial.
"We're trying to connect [as a team] still. At one point, we had five freshmen out there playing," Phan said. "We told our girls, there's good and bad. We didn't play well, but we came back. We could've laid down, but we fought back."
Said Schulz: "We're right there. The energy's there, the fight's there, the work ethic's there. … We knew coming in, it was gonna be a fight and we got an early lead and let them back in. We have to learn from our mistakes."