WASHINGTON TERRACE — The Ogden Outlaws are in the midst of the best season in franchise history.
And Daniel Burnham has rapidly become a big part of that.
Ogden has won three straight matches for the first time in franchise history, with Burnham finding the back of the net four times and assisting another during the surge.
“We’ve just been trying to get better and better every game and every practice,” Burnham said. “We want to make a run at getting into the playoffs, and right now we believe we are good enough to get there.”
Ogden will attempt to take the next step toward playoff qualification tonight when it hosts the Pali Blues at 6 p.m. at Bonneville High School. The Outlaws are currently 5-3-2, and in third place on the Southwest Division table, with the top three teams in each of the Western Conference divisions earning a postseason berth.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I think we’re starting to communicate better,” Burnham said. “I think at first I was a little nervous; you come to a new team, you don’t really know anyone. Everyone here is a soccer player, and we all want to be successful.”
Burnham, a native of Boise, Idaho, will be a senior at Penn State University this fall, his third season with the Nittany Lions after returning from an LDS Church mission to Brazil in 2010. He played his freshman season at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore., before leaving on his mission.
“I was looking for a place that I could play and be a little closer to home and my family for the summer,” Burnham said of coming to Ogden. “Coming here was definitely a good decision, and I feel like I’m growing as a player being here.”
Ogden owner/coach Mike Hickman Sr. has been impressed with Burnham’s work rate and his no-quit attitude. After originally slotting the 5-foot-10 forward/midfielder into the outside midfield for the first half of the season, Hickman decided to switch him to the front line and the move has paid immediate dividends.
“Daniel is just tenacious and was making good runs up top, so we decided why not switch him up there and see what he could do,” Hickman said. “He has a great work rate and just wants to be out there and win the ball and push in forward. There is absolutely no quit in him.”
Hickman made the switch after the Outlaws’ 3-0 loss to FC Tucson on June 7, with Burnham racking up nine points on four goals and an assist since. In Ogden’s 3-2 victory over arch-rival BYU on June 9, Burnham scored twice the second half, including the eventual match-winner in the 70th minute. Last weekend against Southern California, he scored the match-winner in a 1-0 result against the Seahorses, and then assisted Jesse Kupfer’s match-winner and then added an insurance goal against Orange County on Saturday. Overall, he leads the team in goals (5), points (12), and is tied with midfielder Kyle Christensen with two assists.
“I just want to be able to push my career as far as I can,” Burnham said. “My dream, just like all the other guys here, is to try and get noticed and maybe get drafted, but if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll just try keep working hard and see what I can do.”
On Saturday, Ogden will host defending division champion Ventura County at 6 p.m. at Bonneville High School in their 2012 home finale.
• AWARD-WINNER: Ogden goalkeeper K.C. John was named as the PDL’s goalkeeper of the week after leading the Outlaws defense to back-to-back shutout wins last weekend. John had two saves in the Outlaws 1-0 win against Southern California, and then made seven in a 2-0 win vs. Orange County.