BURROUGHS HIGH — The excitement and pressure to perform at the highest level is only compounded when the contest is a cross-town rivalry game between Burbank and Burroughs ???highs.
That enthusiasm and anticipation was cranked up a notch when the teams met Wednesday afternoon in the Pacific League finale for both teams.
Along with city bragging rights, the winner of the contest would earn a berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs and get a chance to play for the league tournament championship next week. The loser would miss the playoffs by one spot, and be relegated to playing in consolation matches in the league tourney.
Burbank definitely looked like a team that desperately wanted the final playoff spot, as the Bulldogs came out with a stellar defense that shut out the Indians for the first two quarters. Couple that with a fine effort from Burbank's Jordan Card, and the Bulldogs had themselves a 13-2 victory at Burroughs High.
The win allowed Burbank (18-7, 4-3 in league) to finish fourth in the final regular-season league standings. Burroughs (9-12, 3-4) placed fifth.
"The girls were pretty calm before the match," Burbank Coach Carlos Pelayo said. "I think they were more excited than nervous. But it was important for us to play well and be able to get the last spot so we could qualify for the playoffs."
While the Bulldogs looked to be clicking in all aspects of their game, the Indians struggled at times on offense and defense. Those struggles were most evident in the first half, as Burbank jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first quarter and held a 5-0 advantage at halftime.
The swarming Burbank defense led to Burroughs turnovers, and the Indians had trouble getting any scoring opportunities around the Bulldogs' cage.
"I think when we looked up and saw that we were down, 3-0, that kind of affected us," Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia said. "We had a lot of miscommunication and we didn't play well at all. All season we've been struggling with being inconsistent, and we were very inconsistent today."
Burbank received a big boost from its three seniors — Jordan Card, Danielle Reid and goalkeeper Sarah Tubert.
Card was a terror on offense and defense, as Burroughs tried to double-team her at times. Undaunted, Card tallied a match-high five goals. Incredibly, four of the goals came off four of her own steals. Card ended with seven steals.
"As a team, we really wanted to step it up for this one," Card said. "We all put in the effort and I think that's what helped us."
Tubert was a stalwart in goal, stopping all but two of the Indians' shots. She finished with 10 blocks.
Reid tallied one goal, but she stepped up on defense, coming away with four steals.
"I think our three seniors really give us the experience," Pelayo said. "The other girls have been able to learn from the three of them and they bring a real calming effect to the team."
Burroughs was finally able to break its scoring drought in the third quarter. With Burbank enjoying a comfortable 8-0 lead, Indians' Sam Bulivac lobbed a shot over Tubert and into the goal at the 3:34 mark.
The Bulldogs upped their lead to 11-1 before Bulivac scored with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Burbank had a 13-2 lead after three quarters.
It was a defensive battle in the fourth quarter, as the Indians couldn't convert any of their eight shots.
"We are just hoping to regroup and be ready for the league tournament next week," Garcia said.
Natalie Pentkowski scored three goals and Janna Ayvazyan and Gabi Rodriguez had two each for Burbank.