Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Burlingame’s Guilia Flygare, right, takes the ball from M-A’s Katie Guenin during the Panthers’ 2-0 win over the Bears Tuesday afternoon.
A week ago, the Burlingame girls’ soccer team managed to salvage a 1-1 tie with Hillsdale, in a game coach Philip DeRosa said his team didn’t play very well.
Fast forward to Tuesday and the Panthers showed why they are still unbeaten in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play. Hosting a dangerous Menlo-Atherton side, Burlingame scored a goal in each half and the defense stymied the Bears in a 2-0 Panthers’ victory.
“We’ve been really trying to concentrate on focus — focus on every shot, focus on every possession — just total focus,” DeRosa said. “In the first game (against M-A), we did not match up well with them. We were on our heels most of the game. [Tuesday], I told them you have to be first to the ball, win the 50-50 balls, just pressure, pressure, pressure.”
That pressure works wonders for Burlingame (7-0-4 PAL Bay, 10-2-5 overall), which kept M-A (5-4-2, 9-3-4) mostly at bay. The Bears did a good job of switching sides of the field to find space, but the Panthers closed them down quickly, either turning the Bears back toward their own goal or preventing them from making the pass that would result in an opportunity on goal.
“[Burlingame] played well. They’re in first place for a reason,” said M-A coach Paul Snow. “[Tuesday], they deserved to win.
“This league is so good.”
Burlingame controlled possession and kept the ball in the Bears’ half of the field for most of the opening 10 minutes of the game, with the Panthers getting off a couple of shots during that span.
Once the game settled down, M-A started pushing forward and creating some opportunities of its own.
But in the 28th minute, Burlingame strung two passes together and it resulted in a 1-0 Panthers lead. Kelsey Andrews received a pass just past midfield. With no one around her, she turned and sent a perfect diagonal pass toward the right sideline. Alexis Prieto, with a step on her defender, ran onto the ball and broke in on goal. A stride into the M-A penalty box, she unleashed a right-footed shot that found the upper-left corner of the net.
Despite being down 1-0 at halftime, Snow liked his team’s chances.
“That’s what I said at halftime. They’re right in this game, down 1-nothing,” Snow said.
The Bears came out flying to start the second half, putting tremendous pressure on the Burlingame defense. M-A earned a pair of free kicks in the first few minutes, including a golden opportunity with a set piece 19 yards from the Panthers’ goal. The shot, however, was chipped high and wide of the frame.
“We had a good opportunity there,” Snow said. “That (miss) took the wind out of our sails a little bit.”
In the 51st minute, the Panthers ran their counter attack to perfection, doubling their lead. Center midfield Rachel Byrd triggered the play by sending a perfect diagonal ball toward the right corner. Alysse LaMond chased it down and one-timed a perfect cross to the front of the M-A goal, where Anika Rianzares was waiting. She calmly one-timed her shot into the roof of the net to put the Panthers up 2-0.
“Their counter worked well both times,” Snow said.
It was Rianzares’ first goal for the Panthers in her three years on the varsity squad.
M-A continued to apply pressure, but the Burlingame defensive line of Guilia Flygare, Malia Smith, Greer Chrisman and Katie Kissner, along with goalkeeper Nina Chikarov, who made five saves, kept the Bears off the scoreboard.
“This was a very big win,” DeRosa said. “[We] played well [Tuesday]. When these girls click, they play pretty soccer.”