By Rick Assad
When the most prolific scorer in Burroughs High boys’ soccer history is blanked, it’s probably going to be a long day.
Pasadena took the pitch on Tuesday afternoon and was determined to hold Manuel Gonzalez in check.
Though Gonzalez tried his best to find an opening, the decorated senior forward was unable to get untracked.
After the Bears (1-1 and 1-1 in league) fell behind 1-0, senior Elias Galaviz answered with his own tally.
And for a time it looked like it was going to come down to which team had the ball last.
It didn’t work out that way, as a three-goal rally in the second half iced the match for the Bulldogs, who cemented a 4-1 triumph in a Pacific League showdown at Memorial Field.
Gonzalez was taken out of the contest in the 33rd minute, didn’t start the second half and entered the fray in the 51st minute.
Even when Gonzalez, who has knocked home 58 goals with 23 assists across his career, had the ball in his possession, there were two and sometimes three defenders guarding him.
Pasadena, which is seeking back-to-back league titles, struck in the 20th minute.
The Bears countered to even it at 1-1 on a 35-yard free kick by Galaviz in the 22nd minute.
First-year Burroughs coach Michael Solano blamed himself for the poor outing by the Bears.
“I think I didn’t prepare the team well enough,” he said. “We played well early on, but credit to Pasadena. They hung around and showed their experience.”
For a significant portion of the match, Pasadena was on the offensive, while Burroughs tried to build a wall in front of its goalie, senior Jacob Cardenas.
The three-goal flurry across the second 40-minute stretch was a knockout punch and something that Burroughs couldn’t answer even though the team gave a good effort.
Solano believes that his squad, which defeated visiting Muir 4-0, will respond despite not playing its best match.
“They had just a bit more cutting edge. They were slicker with the ball and more clever definitely,” he said of the Bulldogs. “Something to learn from. We’ll bounce back.”
The second half was all Pasadena, which drilled host Monrovia 4-1 and host Arcadia 3-1, as it came out of the halftime intermission looking to score.
“We were really good in the second half. I think we came through in the second half. They sat back on us the first half,” said longtime high school coach Cherif Zein, who played on the UCLA men’s soccer team from 1972 through 1974. “We did a couple of nice set pieces that didn’t work out, and then some of the set pieces like the long throw in changed the game and the corner kicks made it work.”
Zein, who has coached high school soccer locally for 45 years including 28 years at Pasadena High, eight at St. Francis and four years at Glendale, set out to stop Gonzalez.
“We covered him well in the middle. We changed our midfielder,” he noted. “He was hesitant in the first half. We switched around and covered the middle. He’s a great player.”
A 20-yard tally in the 45th minute from senior midfielder Daniel Munoz pushed the Bulldogs ahead 2-1.
In the 56th minute, Munoz added a 20-yard goal off a corner kick that made it 3-1.
Six minutes later, Pasadena stretched its advantage to 4-1 on a 10-yard header from senior defender Tyler Romero after a 25-yard kick from Munoz.
The Bulldogs (3-0 and 2-0 in league) had the first three shots of the match before Gonzalez was almost able to get a breakaway in the 10th minute, but the ball was kicked away by a defender.
Galaviz then added a free kick in the 11th minute and Gonzalez had an off-balance attempt from 35 yards in the 13th minute, but it was way short.
Pasadena had a pair of shots including one from senior defender Osmar Rojas in the 15th minute that was kicked from 30 yards and went wide left.
After a two-minute water break, Gonzalez unloaded a 40-yard projectile in the 22nd minute and Pasadena’s senior striker Alexis Dominguez had a 20-yard attempt in the 30th minute.
Cardenas grabbed a 20-yarder from sophomore cornerback Javier Perez Ramirez in the 31st minute and a 30-yarder in the 32nd minute by junior cornerback Andres Reyes.
The Bulldogs had the last three shot attempts of the opening half as senior midfielder Andres Cervantes kicked a 35-yarder and a 30-yarder and Rojas added a 15-yarder as Cardenas made an extraordinary catch and save just before the whistle.
The 40-minute second half began with the Bulldogs getting off four consecutive shots over a nine minute span, including a 35-yarder from Rojas that hit the top of the goal in the 41st minute.
Pasadena then unleashed three shots on goal in the 51st minute and followed that up with six straight across the next 11 minutes.
Munoz had three of the six and included his 20-yard goal and a 30-yarder that sailed wide left and a 25-yarder for another tally.
Gonzalez had a 25-yard boot that carried too high in the 64th minute and a 35-yard free kick a minute later.
Junior Zachary Levy tossed in a 25-yarder for the Bears that was also too high before the Bulldogs saw Reyes add a 20-yarder in the 68th minute and Romero a 20-yarder in the 78th minute.