Indians can't convert chances

LUTHER BURBANK MIDDLE SCHOOL — For the second time in eight days, the La Cañada High girls' soccer team had the opportunity to knock off an undefeated squad.

In a nonleague contest Tuesday, the Spartans faced a Burroughs group that was fresh off a championship in the Sylmar Soccer Invitational on Saturday and had yet to experience defeat in five matches.

Although the Indians had their share of scoring chances in the second half, the La Cañada defense — led by senior goalkeeper Haley Austin — extinguished every threat, paving the way for a 2-0 victory in a match at Luther Burbank Middle School.

The Spartans, who improved to 7-1, defeated previously unbeaten Burbank, 2-1, in a nonleague contest Dec. 13.

"I don't think we've played particularly well, but we're still able to get the victories," La Cañada Coach Louie Bilowitz said. "We really haven't had a lot of practices, and sometimes I think we suffer because of it. There is so much in the system that I want them to learn but we just haven't had the time."

It looked as if the lack of practice didn't adversely affect the Spartans against the Indians (5-1). On the other hand, Burroughs looked a little sluggish in the first half, as the Spartans were winning a majority of balls and were creating opportunities on offense.

First-year Indians Coach Eddie Garcia said his team definitely looked tired against the Spartans.

"This was their fifth game in five days, so I think they were a little out of gas," Garcia said. "I know they can do better and I know they were tired; that's why I wasn't so hard on them. It was a little draining playing in that tournament and I think that took something out of them."

La Cañada tallied the only goal it would need off of a corner kick in the 11th minute. Camped out in front of the goal, sophomore Carly Post took the curving offering and headed in for a 1-0 Spartans lead.

Taking a one-goal deficit into the second half, the Indians looked revived and they started to attack more in the La Cañada zone. But the Spartans defense and Austin continued to frustrate Burroughs.

Being just one of two seniors on the team, Austin said she feels the obligation to help lead the team.

"I kind of have to be that way, to help the team and to also keep myself focused," said Austin, who had eight saves. "If I don't talk I'll just zone out completely and we have a really young team and I think that helps them when I talk."

The Spartans made it 2-0 in the ninth minute of the second half. Sophomore Miranda Dimase-Nordling got the ball on the right side and moved in toward the goal. With the Burroughs keeper coming off line, Dimase-Nordling flicked the ball to her left and it trickled into the left corner of the goal.

The Indians had six solid opportunities to score in the second half. The best opportunity came in the 67th minute, when junior Brittany Mata split two La Cañada defenders and rocketed a shot on goal. But Austin stepped in front of the shot and made a save.

Despite the loss, Garcia said he is pleased with the Indians' progression during his first season.

"For them to get things down and adapt to a new style of play, there's definitely a transition period," he said. "Last weekend in the tournament, they showed a lot of character and they have showed me that they are competitive and very resilient."

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