Julio Lara/Daily Journal
Burlingame's Rachel Byrd dribbles the ball during her team's win.
On Tuesday, Burlingame head coach Phillip De Rosa called in with his team’s girls’ soccer score and hung up the phone leaving the Daily Journal with this message: “The race is tightening up,” he said. “Like a knot.”
By race, De Rosa was talking about the battle going on atop the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division standings. Going into Thursday’s action, the top four teams were separated by a single point with Carlmont sitting in first place with 11.
But after Thursday’s 1-0 victory for the Panthers over the Scots, well, let’s say the race for the Bay’s top team in even tighter and more interesting.
The Panthers pulled off the victory in a very entertaining clash between two very gifted defensive teams. For 77 minutes, Burlingame and Carlmont went up and down the field, trading scoring chances and runs. But in the 78th minute, Alexis Prieto, Alysse La Mond and Ashley Harper hooked up for the dramatic game-winning goal. With the way the teams went at each other for much of the game, a draw might have been the fairest result. But make no mistake about it, Burlingame earned the win and is smiling a little wider on Friday because of it.
“I tell you what, that was not fluky,” De Rosa said. “If you were here in the beginning, we had two bona fide breakaways that I was really disappointed we didn’t put away. The girls just played exceptionally well. This was not a fluky win by any means. They played well. They deserved and earned the win. I’m really proud of them. We would have been really disappointed if we didn’t come out with the win.”
Carlmont probably feels a little shorted given a stellar effort. If you’re into offensive soccer, the 1-0 score might not be your favorite outcome. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a fair amount of scoring chances. The Scots, for all intents and purposes, won the first half — coming mere inches from scoring on a couple of occasions and had the momentum going into recess.
But if there’s one thing the Panthers have proven through six games of the season, it’s that they can defend with any team in the PAL Bay Division.
“The defense was just rock solid,” De Rosa said. “I know a lot of teams are talking about their defenses. It’s early in the season, yes, but the record speaks for itself and the kids play well together. They’re extremely aggressive. They’re solid. Just very pleased with the result.”
Burlingame really began to assert itself 15 minutes or so into the second half. It’s then they started to really press Carlmont on the wings. To the Scots’ credit, they were up to every single wave of Burlingame attack by the likes of Harper, La Mond and Kelsey Andrews, who did most of her work zig-zagging her way through the Carlmont defense and feeding the ball deep into the flanks.
“We just moved some of the forwards to the outside and then changed the forward line — keeping them fresh, keep pressing and keep driving,” De Rosa said. “And we felt like the opportunities were going to come. When we met at halftime and talked about it, there was a very positive feeling. We knew we were playing good. Carlmont came out strong in the second half, but we still felt like we had control of the game.”
It was on one of those waves that Prieto sent a vertical cross to La Mond, who beat her defender and the keeper to the ball and delivered a pass to Harper, who was crashing far post and got there just in time to one-time the ball into the net.
The win for Burlingame means they are now the lone unbeaten team in the PAL Bay Division at 3-0-3.