BURBANK — It’s not often that a goalkeeper in soccer gets to be the hero by doing something other than making a save.
However, in Wednesday’s Pacific League first-place showdown with Pasadena, Burroughs keeper Alberto Meir was able to pull off the rare feat with his feet.
With the Indians trailing in extra time against the Bulldogs, Meir was pulled from his box on what would be a final offensive push. On a corner kick, Meir blasted a goal to salvage a 2-2 tie with the Bulldogs at Memorial Field.
The tie keeps Burroughs (8-2-3, 4-0-1 in league) — the defending league champion — in first place with 10 points.
“Alberto is not only a good goalkeeper, but he’s also a very good field player,” Burroughs Coach Mike Kodama said. “So that’s a good situation for us to have him in at a time like that.
“It’s like pulling the goalie in hockey. I’ve used it before in the past, but I think that’s the first time that it’s actually worked.”
With the Indians trailing the Bulldogs (2-0-2 in league) and time in regulation expired, Burroughs was given a corner kick. That’s when Kodama signaled for Meir to step up and crowd the box. Brandon Gerlach took the corner from the left side and lofted a perfectly placed ball on line to the Pasadena goal. The ball rattled around in front of the goal and bounced out to Meir. He played the ball off of his chest and rifled a shot on goal that squirted past keeper Isaac Monay.
“When the ball came to me I was thinking, ‘Alright, it’s all or nothing, why not take a shot,’” Meir said. “I just tried to get the shot off. But when I saw it go into the net, it was like a dream. This is something a goalie only dreams about.
“We knew after that corner it was going to be the end of the game, so we knew how important it was.”
Burroughs might have been fortunate to get out of the game with a tie after enduring its share of mistakes against Pasadena.
The Indians were forced to play the final 19 minutes one player down after David Campos got his second yellow card in the 61st minute, prompting his departure from the match.
It was a defensive lapse that led to a Pasadena goal in the 64th minute. Instead of clearing the ball on the right side, a Burroughs defender instead put it right at the feet of the Bulldogs’ Oscar Vasquez, who was streaking down the field. Vasquez took the offering, dribbled in and scored past Meir.
The goal put Pasadena up, 2-1.
“We made some bad mistakes today and we paid for those mistakes,” Kodama said.
Neither team could generate much offense in the first half, as they went into intermission in a scoreless deadlock.
The Indians were able to strike first in the 45th minute. After Gerlach was dragged down in the penalty area, Burroughs was awarded a penalty shot. Nolberto Alcantar took the shot and scored, beating the keeper low and to the right.
Pasadena tied the score at 1 on a goal by Yezid Lopez in the 50th minute.
“This is a tough league, so we’ll take the tie for sure,” said Kodama, whose team has had close wins against Crescenta Valley (2-1) and Glendale (1-0).