The Cinderella story that is the No. 11 Burlingame girls' soccer team has unfortunately hit the midnight hour.
After shocking two solid teams in dramatic, last-minute fashion, the Panthers ran into a team in No. 2 St. Francis that out-possessed, out-paced and ultimately outscored them 4-0.
The Panthers came into the Central Coast Section Division III semifinal against St. Francis knowing they'd need a bit of magic dust to stay with the big, bad Lancers and Wednesday afternoon there was none to be had.
"We just played a better team," said Burlingame head coach Phillip DeRosa. "The team was clearly better than us. We played as hard as we could and it really didn't matter if it was our day or not. We got beat by a better team."
The Lancers got a much-needed statement goal in the 18th minute after knocking on the proverbial door several times, requiring line-clearing saves by Burlingame defenders. The St. Francis attack came in waves and finally broke through on a superb goal by Annie Kingman. The forward cut on a dime to the inside, spotted a window from about 25 yards out and blasted a shot that no goalkeeper in the Central Coast Section could save.
It took the Lancers less than six minutes to double the advantage and put all the pressure on a Burlingame offense that was already having trouble getting the ball into their offensive third -- with so many players forced to defend, there were few available up top for the Panther attack.
"We thought that if we could get one goal and make it 2-1, that we could make a run at them," DeRosa said. "It was just tough."
"I think they have a very good offense and it was really hard controlling it," said Burlingame senior Lena Mendelson. "Their speed, it was kind of unexpected so what we were hoping wouldn't happen did happen. They're definitely a very skilled team. And offensively, we just didn't have it."
Even down 2-0 at the half, the Lancers weren't necessarily banking on the win and the Panthers were still upbeat.
"We were extremely motivated, extremely positive," DeRosa said. "I could not be more proud of these young ladies given where we started from our goal was just to make it to CCS. We are in clearly the toughest division. There's an expression that after we won the first game, we were playing with house money simply because this group, in a compliment to them, are overachievers. They just played their heart out, never gave up. As a coach, it's one of the all-time pleasant surprises."
As expected, the Panthers did what they could to battle. A couple of Mendelson and Alexis Prieto runs held a bit of promise, but come the 63rd minute, the Lancers put the game away with a goal by Delaney Baie Pridham, who beat the Burlingame keeper to the ball on a looping through ball that she tapped over the end line for the 3-0 score.
"When they scored that third goal, that really hurt," DeRosa said. "I thought we were going to get a couple of opportunities, but they're fast, they're tough on the 1v1."
The Lancer offensive pressure did not let up and was good for one more Kingman goal with a little more than three minutes left in regulation time.
"I can't believe it's over," Mendelson said, fighting back a tear or two that wanted to creep their way through the seniors eyes. "It was an amazing four years. It's really emotional actually. It's weird. It's sad that it's over and that it ends this way but I'll never forget my years here. I'm very proud of my team. I didn't even think we'd get this far, even get to CCS. I think we could have done better and obviously I'm going to say that coming off a tough loss. But I'm really proud of my team."