By Rick Assad
Powered by three first-half goals from junior Mario Herrera and a stifling defense, the Burroughs High boys’ soccer team shut out visiting Muir 3-0 at Memorial Field on Thursday afternoon.
The Pacific League match was halted in the 53rd minute after a Mustang player, who wasn’t contacted, went down near the Bears’ sideline and was on his back until paramedics arrived and took him to a nearby hospital.
The player pointed to his chest and said he was having a hard time breathing, according to one game official.
The scoring began in the 11th minute when Herrera knocked one in from 16 yards.
Three minutes later, Herrera struck again, this time on an 18-yarder that made the score 2-0.
In the 35th minute, Herrera had his hat trick when he banged in a 15-yard bullet that extended Burroughs’ advantage to 3-0.
“I didn’t think I was going to score three goals in this game, but I felt I would do pretty well in this game. I like having the weight of helping the team out on my shoulders a lot,” Herrera said. “It just brings more confidence from me. We definitely needed the three points back after the two losses to Glendale and Crescenta Valley.”
The Mustangs (1-6-4 and 0-3-1 in league) had the first shot on goal when freshman Arthur Escandon unloaded a 27-yarder in the third minute.
Burroughs had the next two shots, and they came off the foot of freshman Alexander Loera in the sixth minute on a 27-yarder that drifted wide right and Loera’s 30-yard penalty kick two minutes later.
Burroughs coach Michael Solano was pleased with the game and especially with Herrera.
“Mario’s been a player that we feel has been a player with a ton of talent. We’ve been kind of waiting for him to break out of his shell. And today was a bit of a coming out party,” he said. “He had three big goals for us. It was a big game. We’ve been on a rough trot as of late. We had two big games before this that we fell on the other side of, and we wanted a big reaction and Mario did that. It was a big performance on his part. I’m glad I gave him the go. He’s a very special player. We want him to do more.”
Muir’s sophomore Aidan Geiger’s 32-yarder in the 17th minute missed the target.
The Bears (3-2 and 2-2 in league) then connected on five straight shots on goals across the next eight minutes that included Herrera’s first two tallies.
It began with senior Zach Levy’s 40-yarder in the 20th minute and Herrera then drilled his two tallies.
Loera added an 18-yarder in the 26th minute and sophomore Michael Vega tacked on a 12-yarder in the 28th minute.
The Mustangs finally broke the spell when Geiger added a 45-yard free kick in the 29th minute.
Burroughs closed out the first half with four shots that included Herrera’s score while junior Andrew Rodas had an 18-yarder in the 33rd minute, senior Landon Espinoza’s 37-yarder in the 34th minute and Vega’s 12-yard kick in the 36th minute.
The second half began with a 45-yard penalty kick from Escandon in the 43rd minute and it was followed by Herrera’s header that sailed right in the 45th minute and junior Daniel Proano’s corner kick in the 49th minute.