SportStars Magazine

Burlingame’s “Super” Motivation

Embracing The Role Of Underdogs, Burlingame Boys Soccer Reached CIF NorCal Semifinals By Attempting To Mirror Mindset Of Super Bowl Champs •

Story by MIKE WOOD | Photos by ED OSWALT

Though this was a CIF NorCal boys soccer playoff game, the Burlingame boys team took a Super Bowl team’s mindset.

“When we entered CCS, we were given the sixth seed in the Open Division; our mindset from that point there is ‘We’re the Eagles,'” said goalkeeper Evan Glatt. “We were the underdog the whole way through, but we won our league, really dominant. Just like the Eagles … the Eagles won the NFC and they were the best team and they were still the underdogs.”

For the record, Burlingame’s mascot is the Panthers. But they made much like the NFL team from Philadelphia in going on the road to upset No. 3 seed De La Salle-Concord 2-1 on March 6. The Spartans, with 13 North Coast Section soccer titles and experience playing in nine section title games in the past 10 years, own a New England Patriots aura of success and postseason savvy.

The Panthers have yet to win a Central Coast Section boys soccer championship. They just played in only their third CCS final, losing to No. 5 seed St. Ignatius-S.F. 2-1 after knocking off No. 3 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose and No. 2 Alisal-Salinas.

Again a No. 6 seed in the inaugural CIF NorCal Division I playoffs, Burlingame (15-4-4) will try its magic on the road once more at No. 2 Montgomery-Santa Rosa (22-2-1) on March 8 in the regional semifinals.

 

Aymeric Destree scored the game-winning goal in the 37th minute against De La Salle.

“We’ve been the underdogs the whole way through,” Glatt said. “No one thought it. They were like ‘public school … Burlingame.’ No one’s ever heard of us. We’ve never gone this far. People are thinking, ‘Oh, this will be a win.'”

With its vocal goalkeeper leading a stout defense, the Panthers thwarted repeated De La Salle attempts to tie the game.

The winning goal came from junior Aymeric Destree, who hadn’t yet scored this season but made good on a kick 37 minutes into the first half.

“I couldn’t not put it in. I couldn’t miss that chance,” Destree said. “I haven’t gotten that much playing time this year, either, so it was my first big game. I make the most out of my opportunities.”

“He’s been knocking on the door for a while,” said Burlingame coach Anthony Dimech. “He’s been one of my main guys off the bench. He’s been playing well the past few weeks. He’s getting a little more time, and finally he rewarded himself with a goal.”

The host Spartans (17-3-7) showed the early makings of another victory, scoring in the third minute when Dillon Morley cashed in with an assist from Chris Falco.

Marcus Grundmann brings the ball up the field during the CIF NorCal opener.

“This field is definitely the smallest field we’ve played on all year, so we had to adjust our positioning a little bit,” Dimech said. “There’s no width on this field, so it took us a little bit to adjust. Unfortunately they caught us right out of the gate. We had to weather the storm the first 10-15 minute because they came out hard. I thought as the game went on, we started knocking the ball around in the middle of the field and started controlling it a little more.”

The game evened up in the 17th minute when Gabe Hyman (pictured at top of the story) knocked in a header. It fired up Burlingame, leading to Destree’s score shortly before halftime.

“Defensively we were more organized in the second half, for sure,” Dimech said. “I knew they would be pressuring, so I sat back a little bit more and tried to catch them on the counter.”

The Spartans tried to recapture the late-match magic of their NCS semifinal victory, when they were down a goal to Pittsburg only to score in the final minutes, and then win in overtime 3-2. Right before the final whistle, Glatt made a stop on a header from James Person. The victory was complete and the Panthers celebrated another road win.

“We defend really well; we don’t give up the good opportunities,” Glatt said. “We maybe give up the shot from 30 yards, but we don’t give up the good opportunities. And that kind of has been the thing all season. We barely got scored on in league. We have had a dominant season on defense.”

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