Girls’ soccer falls short to Aragon in CCS quarterfinal


Michelle Moshkovoy

Girls’ varsity soccer’s CCS matchup was a tale of two halves, as Burlingame controlled the first half, while Aragon improved its play in the second half.

Michelle Moshkovoy, Sports Editor

An early series of glaring scoring opportunities proved not enough on Saturday, Feb. 18, as No. 8 seed Burlingame (9-5-4 overall) fell 1-0 to No. 1 seed Aragon High School (16-3 overall) in the first round of the Division I Central Coast Section (CCS) tournament. 

The prospect of an upset looked probable in the first half, as the Panthers held more possession and repeatedly broke down the Dons’ defensive line to pressure the goal. 

 In the 8th minute, a lob pass from junior center midfielder Cora Haggarty found freshman right winger Stella Newman at the 20-yard line. Newman pushed the ball all the way to the penalty arc, only for her shot attempt to be blocked by Aragon’s goalie. 

7 minutes later, a through ball from Haggarty near the 40-yard line set up junior right winger Kaylee Ng for a chance at the final third. Ng’s attempt hit the net but missed left.

Burlingame’s third chance came in the 17th minute, when Ng made a long pass from the midfield line to an open Newman. With a defender pressing to her left and the goalie approaching in front, Newman immediately shot the ball, but, again, it flew just far left. 

“We had a fair amount of corner pieces as well that we weren’t able to get into the back of the net. I think we were there,” senior right midfield Josie Lacrosse said. “We just needed to finish. It would have been a different game.” 

The fact that they were so close to being “there,” but couldn’t capitalize, is precisely what head coach Philip De Rosa feared would bite Burlingame back later in the game. 

“From the beginning, it was a bad omen I kept inside. The fact that, ‘I hope those don’t come back and haunt [us],”’ De Rosa said. 

While the Panthers’ offense struggled to execute, their defense kept them in the game, continuously staving off attacks from the Dons over the next 20 minutes. When the whistle sounded for halftime, the score remained 0-0. 

In the second half, Aragon came out the gate with intensity and increased its press. The Panthers played more frantically, as they further searched for scoring chances, but struggled with turnovers. 

With a short-handed bench — senior center forward Jamie Callantine and senior midfielder Emma Glynn were out with sickness and a knee injury — Burlingame didn’t have many substitution opportunities. And with the sun pounding in an unusually bright February afternoon, the Panthers’ fatigue began to show. 

But while a variety of factors affect the way a soccer team plays, often only one moment decides its fate. For Burlingame, that was the 66th minute, when the Dons launched a sudden counterattack on a scrambling Panther defense.

 A throw-in into Burlingame’s offensive zone found its way to Aragon’s defenders, who quickly pushed the ball downfield with a series of quick passes. As the Panthers tried to recover on defense, the Dons capitalized on a cross near the goal to take a 1-0 lead.

The Panthers didn’t let up for the final 12 minutes however, chasing down 50-50 balls, pressuring the Dons’ goal and playing extremely physically with their season on the line. 

In the 72nd minute, freshman right back Ren Tsunemara was fouled while making a run, and given a free kick at the 20 yard line. The free kick attempt flew directly to Aragon’s goalie. 

 As the clock winded down in the second half and the referees announced, “one more minute!” in stoppage time, Burlingame still didn’t take its foot off the gas. Eventually, though, the final whistle sounded to seal the CCS quarterfinal victory for Aragon. 

“That’s the ebb and flow of soccer: [For] one team everything will be clicking, and then all of a sudden it stops clicking. Then, the other team will start clicking,” De Rosa said. “When [they were] clicking, that’s when they scored. So it’s a tough one.” 

The win was a resounding one for the Dons, who were relegated to the PAL Ocean Division after finishing last season with a losing record. For De Rosa, who has seen it all in his 25 years as Burlingame’s head coach, this Panther lineup still has much to be proud of.

“Anytime you lose, it’s a heartbreaker and you go through that disappointment. But only one team gets to win…that’s just part of the deal,” De Rosa said. “But overall…I told the girls [to] hold their heads high…They met the goal of staying in the Bay [Division] for next year, and they met the goal of qualifying for CCS. And so, from my standpoint, it was a very successful season.”