BURBANK HIGH — It might have been just the first game of the season, but the Burbank High girls' soccer team looked to be in mid-season form Tuesday against Monrovia
The Bulldogs used crisp passing and sustained offensive pressure to completely frustrate the Wildcats. In addition, Burbank out hustled, continually won balls and was definitely the speedier team on the field.
As a result, the Bulldogs were able to roll to a 6-2 nonleague victory at home.
Burbank was bolstered by a fine performance from junior Dakota Briseno, who tallied a natural hat trick, with all three of her goals coming before the half-way point of the first half.
"I came from having a pretty good club soccer season and that has helped my confidence a lot," said Briseno, who competes for L.A. Premier. "Today I couldn't have done it without the team behind me. They played those balls in and they were able to set me up."
It was indeed a good showing for Burbank, considering the squad came into the regular season opener for both teams depleted. Along with a group of key players sidelined with injuries, the Bulldogs were also missing a pair of transfer players from Australia who were suffering from the stomach flu.
Despite missing his share of players and Burbank Coach Eric Montoya having to shuffle athletes around, the coach said he was pleasantly surprised with the Bulldogs' effort.
"I told the girls that they surprised me today," he said. "Overall, I was very happy with the way that we played this being the first game of the season and all, and considering the players we were missing. I told them that they are only going to get better as the season goes along."
Briseno scored all of her goals within an eight-minute span in the early going.
In the ninth minute, she took a perfect pass from junior Clarissa Guerrero and put the offering past Monrovia goalkeeper Ariana Robles.
The lead didn't last long, however, as the Wildcats' Emily Matthiesen scored less than a minute later to knot the score at 1.
Less than a minute after that, Briseno got the lead back for Burbank when she took a hard shot from the left side that the goalkeeper couldn't get to.
Briseno made it 3-1 in the 19th minute when she again fooled the Monrovia keeper. Briseno dribbled the ball up the right side and moved in toward the goal. When Robles came out to cut down the angle, Briseno flicked the ball up and over her head, the ball landing in the left upper corner of the goal.
"Getting a win in our first game is something that will really lift our confidence," Briseno said. "We just seem to be playing really well together."
With dominating play in the first half, Burbank went into halftime with a two-goal advantage.
However, the Wildcats fought back in the opening minutes of the second half. Amelia Collins took a free kick from 30 yards out in the 44th minute and put it over the head of Bulldogs keeper Brianna Jacobo, who went up high to make the save but just couldn't get her hand on the ball.
But Burbank responded in a big way. The Bulldogs tallied three goals on their first four shots of the second half.
Senior Alessia Dal Monte scored in the 51st minute, as she beat the keeper in close after a Burbank free kick.
Two minutes later, Guerrero scored a goal of her own on an assist from Dal Monte to increase the cushion to 5-2. Guerrero tallied her second goal of the contest in the 58th minute.
"I really like what I saw today," Montoya said. "They really put in a great effort."