Alessia Dal Monte is a key returner for the Burbank High girls' soccer team.

Alessia Dal Monte is a key returner for the Burbank High girls' soccer team. (File Photo / November 20, 2012)

It was a significant cross-town battle between the Burbank High and Burroughs girls' soccer teams when they met for the third time last season.

The teams, which both finished the season tied for fourth place in the Pacific League with 7-6-1 records, were forced to compete in a play-in match after the Bulldogs notched a 4-0 victory against their rival in the regular-season finale. Burbank also won the play-in contest, 2-1, in overtime to earn the final automatic playoff spot from the league.

The Indians ended up making the Division II playoffs with an at-large selection. Burroughs fell in a wild-card game against Lakewood, 4-0. Burbank also lost in a wild-card match against Rancho Cucamonga, 3-0.

Burbank and Burroughs have their share of returning players from last season's squads. The other two city teams, Providence and Bellarmine-Jefferson, will be looking to secure postseason berths with their share of talented players.

Here is a closer look at how the season is shaping up.

BURBANK

The Bulldogs (11-10-2 last season) will field an experienced team that is full of seniors who have spent a number of years in the program.

"We do have a good group of returners this year and I've only got two freshmen who have come into the program," Burbank Coach Eric Montoya said. "We have a lot of seniors and a lot of juniors, so we're going to have the experience. We have something like seven seniors who have been with us for a number of years. This team also has great leadership.

"I think that we should be really strong defensively, strong in the midfield and our forwards are very good. So, we should compete up there with the best of them."

Leading the crop of newcomers are junior forward Clarissa Guerrero, junior midfielder Maddie Carlborg, senior forward Alessia Dal Monte, senior defender Natalie Muller, junior defender Michelle Morales and junior forward/midfielder Dakota Briseno. In goal will be senior Sarah Rangwala.

The team will be missing key player Juliana Marx, a junior defender. Morales said Marx broke her back and will be out for the season.

"We have a pretty tough preseason schedule with some tough opponents and some tough tournaments," Montoya said. "I think we should be ready when league rolls around."

Morales said he is also hoping to benefit from a pair of twin sisters, junior Gabby and Emma Dixon, transfers from Australia who will play defense and in the midfield. Freshman goalkeeper Brianna Jacobo could also see playing time.

"In league, I think that Pasadena might surprise some people this year," Montoya said. "But as far as the toughest teams in league that we'll face, I think it should be Arcadia, Crescenta Valley and Pasadena. But I think we also have a great shot at winning league this year."

BURROUGHS

The Indians (13-10-2) will field a team that includes seven seniors. In addition, the team should also benefit from an influx of three freshmen who all play together on the same club team.

"These three will really add a lot to the team," Burroughs Coach Eddie Garcia said. "They have all played together and they really know one another and that shows on the field.

"Along with the three, this is an extremely hard-working group. It's a huge difference from last year and the girls are very motivated."

The freshmen are forward/midfielder Angelica Delgado, defender/forward Noelle Garcia and midfielder Brianna Castillo.

Burroughs did lose a few potential returners who decided not to come out for the team this season.