MEMORIAL FIELD — It was a textbook case of missed opportunities when the Burroughs High boys' soccer team squared off against Taft in a first-round, pool-play match of the Ralph Brandt Tournament.
In a first half that saw the Indians suffer their share of defensive lapses, the Toreadors had a wealth of chances to score, only to come up empty. The tables were turned in the second half, as Burroughs knocked on the door on several occasions with prime scoring opportunities.
However, like their counterparts in the first half, the Indians couldn’t cash in on any of their chances in the second. As a result, the teams ended in a 0-0 tie at Memorial Field.
In the opening half, Burroughs looked anything but crisp, and coach Mike Kodama said his squad was lucky to survive the first 40 minutes without giving up a goal.
“It was wet and slippery out there and that might have had something to do with it,” said Kodama, who was going against his brother, Matthew, the Taft head coach. “But we made some early mistakes and we were fortunate that they weren’t able to convert any of their chances.
“But I felt as the game went on we got stronger and stronger and we played a lot better in the second half.”
Burroughs had 10 shots in the game, with the majority coming in the second half.
In the first 20 minutes of the second, the Indians maintained offensive pressure that kept Taft goalkeeper Josh Burman busy. During that span, Burroughs kept the ball primarily in the Toreadors’ end.
The best chance the Indians had at breaking the tie came within a three-minute barrage starting in the 54th minute. Burroughs’ Brian Arzate gave the ball to Xavi Izqueta on a give-and-go on the left side deep in Taft territory. Izqueta dribbled in and took a hard shot that Burman deflected.
When Taft couldn’t clear the ball, a Burroughs player delivered a header in a crowd that rocketed toward the Toreadors’ goal. With the goalkeeper out of position, Taft defender Oscar Barco stepped in front of the offering and kicked it away, saving a sure goal.
Less than a minute later, Indian Michael Conrad delivered a hard shot on goal that Burman was able to get a hand on and deflect away.
“We should have definitely scored a few of those goals,” Burroughs junior forward Brandon Gerlach said. “There are some things that we have to work on, but I think we’ll get to it.”
Although it didn’t have much in the way of offensive chances in the early going of the second half, Taft came on in the latter part of the stanza. In fact, the Toreadors had two of the best chances of the contest late.
With two minutes remaining, and Taft with a throw-in opportunity, the ball landed at the feet of Humberto Ledezma, who was positioned 10 yards in front of the Burroughs goal. Ledezma fired a shot high that Indians keeper Elliot Whitecotton just got his fingertips on. The ball bounced off the cross bar and out of play.
In stoppage time, Taft’s Christopher Steward took a shot that banked off the crossbar.
“This team is going to get better,” Kodama said. “Yes, we had the opportunities, but we also had some breakdowns. We just have to move the ball better. I think once the guys get used to playing with one another we’ll start moving the ball better.”
The Indians also had a defender save a likely goal. In the 30th minute of the first half, Taft’s Barco delivered a perfect corner kick that curved toward the Burroughs goal. With Whitecotton on the far side, the ball came bending in toward the near post. But Milosh Petko was positioned perfectly, and he kicked the ball away.
Burroughs’ Jorman Herrera had a prime chance in the 38th minute on a pass from Izqueta, but Burman came up with the save.
The Indians will return to action in their own tournament with a 7 p.m. pool-play game Saturday against West Ranch at Memorial Field.