Slow start turns into a dominant performance for boys’ varsity soccer


Theo Au-Yeung

Senior right back Lleyton Yang fights for possession in boys’ varsity soccer’s game on Nov. 30.

Theo Au-Yeung, Staff Reporter

In their Nov. 30 season opener, boys’ varsity soccer pushed through a rough start, finding their footing to win 2-0 over South San Francisco (South City) High School. 

With three games already under their belt this season, the Warriors initially looked like the stronger, more poised team. The Panthers found themselves overwhelmed by the pressure of South City’s fast tempo and struggled to develop long spells of possession.

“It took us a little while to get going, we were just out there trying to feel the game and calm down the nerves a little,” said head coach Anthony Dimech. “They were very physical, which made it difficult for us, but we were able to make an adjustment.” 

As the first half went on, Burlingame began to find their rhythm, pressing up the field and turning the pressure back onto South City. 

“As we pressed up on them, it definitely helped us find our groove, and we were able to exploit the space up the pitch a lot better,” senior striker Sean O’Grady said. “Once we started getting a feel of our opponents a little better, we were able to start keying in on their weaknesses and taking advantage of them.” 

It was O’Grady who gave Burlingame its first goal in the 33rd minute, smashing the ball into the net following a deflected cross from senior right winger Alejandro Contreras. 

“It felt great to just get that first goal just to boost my confidence moving forward for the rest of the season,” O’Grady said. “And that goal definitely opened up the game a lot more for us, and we were able to create a lot more chances.” 

O’Grady’s goal seemed to mark a turning point for the Panthers. By the second half, the team looked like it had been playing together for years. Just one minute into the half, Burlingame swarmed South City’s defense, moving the ball into dangerous attacking areas. Junior Hank Lane finally found the back of the net on an outswinging cross, but the play was ultimately ruled offside. From that moment forward, it seemed like South City rarely touched the ball.

Senior defensive midfielder and captain Alex Kelly facilitated the team’s possession, consistently winning the ball all over the field. The defense held South City to zero shots the entire half, while Burlingame piled in chance after chance on the other side of the field. 

Junior midfielder Kevin Ascarza, who played on the junior varsity team last season, netted the second goal in the 72nd minute following another assist from Contreras. Throughout the game, Ascarza and junior attacking midfielder Altai Ordubadi played pivotal roles in creating scoring opportunities. 

“Kevin was great, I thought he put in a great shift for us,” Dimech said. “Especially given that he was playing in his first game for us, it was great to see him and Altai pushing the ball up the field.” 

The Panthers hope to channel the momentum from Thursday into the coming season, where the team will gain more experience against tougher opponents.  

“We’re still out here developing our chemistry, everyone’s coming back from club games,” said Ascarza. “We can definitely improve our touch, making it quicker and playing a bit of a faster tempo.”