Boys’ Soccer Preview: Burroughs, Burbank, Providence Hit Reset Button

Bears, Bulldogs and Pioneers begin new chapters in program history with first-year coaches.

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(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Entering the 2022-23 season, the Burroughs, Burbank and Providence high boys’ soccer teams share something in common: All will have first-year coaches.

Each of them will look to reshape their respective programs in different capacities, with the main goals focusing on improvement and possibly contending for a playoff spot.

Burroughs and Burbank advanced to the CIF playoffs last season.

Here’s a closer look at the teams.

BURROUGHS

The Bears brought in Makan Afzali to handle the coaching responsibilities. Afzali, a former player and assistant coach at Pacific League-rival Crescenta Valley, replaces Michael Solano.

Burroughs finished 8-6-1, 5-2 in league for third place last season behind Crescenta Valley and Glendale. Burroughs defeated Laguna Blanca, 2-0, in a CIF Southern Section Division VI wild-card match before posting a 1-0 win against Mary Star of the Sea in the first round. Burroughs’ season concluded with a 2-0 defeat versus Silverado in the second round.

Afzali said the Bears should be in line to contend for a league championship.

“We’ve got about 23 players and that’s a good number to have to be competitive,” Afzali said. “We have some guys who have played a few seasons at the club level and we have pretty good overall experience. That should give us a good balance.

“There’s always going to be a lot of good teams in the Pacific League and that should be the case again this year. League will be hard and it will be a definite challenge for our team.”

Burroughs will turn to senior midfielder Daniel Proano, junior centerback Michael Vega, junior striker Dominic Quijada, sophomore striker Alexander Loera and sophomore midfielder Danny Pascual to pave the way for a potential trip back to the postseason.

BURBANK

The Bulldogs have ushered in Robert Romero to pilot the team. Romero was hired in August, taking over for Raz Adoti.

Burbank went 5-5, 4-3 in the Pacific League last season for fourth place, Burbank fell, 2-1, to Monrovia in a Division VI wild-card contest.

Romero said he’s eager to help move the program in the right direction.

“I’m anxious, nervous and excited,” Romero said. “There’s a plethora of things that you are looking at and we’ve established some goals.

“The short-term goal is to be competitive in league and win a couple of rounds in the playoffs. That would be great. The long-term goal is to win CIF. We feel like we have a very good mix of players who can contribute.”

(Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

The key returners for the Bulldogs will include senior midfielder Erik Gharibian, senior sweeper Garik Kirakosyan, senior forward/midfielder Gabriel Mier, junior midfielder George Atallah and junior goalkeeper Hayk Tovmasyan.

PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers will look to get back on track under the guidance of Rey Suarez, who served as the school’s girls’ soccer coach the past three seasons and is the current girls’ tennis coach.

Suarez, a Crespi graduate, will look to reboot a squad that went 1-10-1, 0-6 in the Prep League and didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season.

“We’re pretty much in a rebuilding phase right now,” Suarez said. “We’re a work in progress, but we are ready to get things done.

“We’ll have around 13-14 players. We’ll have some new talent and they are all eager to play.”

Providence will be led by senior midfielder Simon Habash, senior centerback/midfielder James Manikyan, junior goalkeeper Jason Chavez, junior centerback Nico Ortiz, freshman centerback Isaiah Mahmood and freshman defender Sean Banashek.

Providence will compete in league with Pasadena Poly, Flintridge Prep and Chadwick. Each team will face one other three times with the top two squads automatically advancing to the playoffs.

The Pioneers will play their home matches at John Ferraro Athletic Fields and Rio de L.A. Park in Los Angeles.