Julio Lara/Daily Journal
Lauren Holland and Rachel Byrd chase down a through ball in the Panthers' 1-0 win.
The last time Burlingame and Woodside locked up for a girls’ soccer game, the Panthers weren’t shy about how they felt afterwards. The whistle blew, the scoreboard on the west side of their field marked a draw and Burlingame was over the moon with satisfaction after earning that tie against the reigning PAL Bay Division champions.
So one has to wonder the kind of euphoria the Panthers must be feeling right about now.
In the return match between the teams, Rachel Byrd struck home the game-winning goal in the 52nd minute to shock the home team Wildcats 1-0. The victory for Burlingame keeps them unbeaten in league.
“I don’t know if we had enough confidence in ourselves,” Byrd said about the team’s attitude after that initial draw against Woodside some four weeks ago. “We went out against one of the best teams in the league and we realized we could play with them. I think that was a huge confidence boost for everyone on the team — especially those who hadn’t played, like freshmen and underclassmen. So, I think that was a confidence boost for us and for the rest of the season, too.”
“This is a very coachable team,” said Burlingame head coach Phillip De Rosa. “You tell them what to do and they listen. And today, we told them at half time they needed to get to the ball first. And that was the difference. We had to weather the initial storm. Woodside won the first half. We won the second. It was a great win.”
“Their attitude. Their effort. It was very, very convincing,” said Woodside head coach Jose Navarrete of the team that handed his squad its second loss of the league season. “We didn’t match their intensity. It is as simple as that.”
Intensity had something to do with it, but not entirely. Even a couple of girls on the Burlingame bench admitted near the end of the game — after Woodside forward Erika Negrete just missed equalizing by a couple of inches — that they had been lucky during a couple of stretches. Still, luck favors the team that works the hardest and, on Thursday, Burlingame clearly outpaced Woodside — especially on the defensive side of the ball.
In the first half, Woodside sent wave after wave after wave of offensive attack toward the Burlingame goal. While the Panthers, on the other hand, had very little offensive rhythm and were dominated in the midfield. Without any presence there, the Burlingame attack consisted of a Hail Mary long ball and a prayer for a Woodside mistake in the backline that never happened.
But to the Panthers’ credit, their defensive efforts, led by Greer Chrisman, stood strong, while Nina Chikanov made the saves she needed to keep the score 0-0.
“That is what has happened to us all season,” Navarrete said. “We let teams hang around, hang around, hang around and we shoot ourselves in the foot later on. Like I said, I think people are doing a great job playing that way against us and we haven’t been to able to get that goal to open them up, take care of the ball and then get a second. But credit to Burlingame. They played very hard. And that’s why they’re undefeated in league. What they’re doing is working.”
What Burlingame did in the second half was capitalize on the few chances they did get at the Woodside goal.
“We definitely came out with more intensity in the second half,” Byrd said. “And, we weren’t happy with how defensive we were playing. We weren’t showing any signs of attack in the first half. And, we didn’t want to play for a tie. We wanted to play for a win. We came out and were looking for a goal in the second half.”
That goal came 12 minutes into the second half after some pressure by Alexis Prieto on the left wing got the ball deep into Woodside territory. The Wildcats had trouble blasting the ball out of their penalty box and instead, a ricochet shot rolled over to Ashley Harper, who laid the ball off to a charging Byrd. The midfielder then struck the ball pure and with power to beat the Woodside keeper for the 1-0 lead.
With a ton of time left on the clock, the Wildcats continued to attack and were rewarded with about four chances at goal that left Burlingame gasping — two of which came off the foot of the always-dangerous Jillienne Aguilera.
But the Panthers withstood that late storm and came away with the big win.
“They’re definitely a great team,” Byrd said. “I’m just really happy with this win. And, I think we have the mentality that we can win any game and we want to win every game. Every team is really good this year. No game is going to be a cake walk. I think we just want it a lot more now.”
Menlo 2, Sacred Heart Prep 1
A goal in each half propelled Menlo School over rival Sacred Heart Prep 1-0 to stay unbeaten in West Bay Athletic League play.
The two teams came into the game tied for first place with 6-0-1 league records.
Menlo jumped on top 12 minutes into the first half when Amanda McFarland’s free kick found Chandler Wickers whose 10-yard shot beat the SHP keeper.
In the second half, Zoe Enright connected from eight yards out off an assist from Wickers in the 54th minute.
SHP scored its goal with 12 minutes left in the game.
Schuyler Tilney-Volk made nine saves for Menlo.