La Quinta entered Wednesday’s Desert Valley League match with Cathedral City needing a win more than their hosts. They played like it, eventually dominating terms and running out to a 2-0 win.
A first-half strike from senior forward Jaylene Manion in the seventh minute, and an insurance goal from junior forward Marcela Gallo, whose impact grew through the second half, gives the Blackhawks a 9-2-4 overall record, 2-0-1 in the league. It pulls them into the upper half of the league standings, while the Lions fell to 11-8-1 overall, 3-2-0 in league play.
“Every time we play Cat City, I always know it’s going to be battle. And we were expecting that again,” said coach Bob Quattlebaum. “I knew if we cold keep them from scoring in the first 15 minutes, it was going to increase our odds of winning that game, because they (Cathedral City) always come out and play with a lot of emotion. I knew if we could get by that first 15 minutes it would be a different game for us.”
La Quinta began the match attempting to get down the sides of the Lions’ defense, using their speedy wings to good effect, and pressing without the ball in their opponents’ half. That pressure paid near-immediate dividends.
With just over six minutes gone, the Blackhawks forced a turnover in the Lions’ half of the field, which led to a corner kick that produced La Quinta’s early 1-0 lead.
Forward Reanna Rivera lofted the corner to the far post just outside the six-yard box, where Manion out-jumped two Cathedral City defenders and looped a header back across the goal, over the head of Cathedral City freshman goalkeeper Natalia Castellon, and into the lower left corner of the net. Despite several chances for both teams over the next 33 minutes, the lead stood up through the first half.
La Quinta scored the decisive second goal just seven minutes into the second half. Sophomore midfielder Monica Calderon collected a loose ball just outside the Cathedral City penalty area and snapped a shot that Castellon beat away.
But La Quinta junior forward Gallo was in the right place to pick up the rebound just inside the area. She lobbed her shot over the head of Castellon, who was just off her line, and into the back of the net, giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with just over a half-hour to play.
After taking the two-goal lead, La Quinta began to take control of the ball and built a decisive territorial advantage, as Cathedral City’s offensive forays were increasingly limited to counter attacks off Blackhawk turnovers. The Lions’ best chance to score came with five minutes to play, but they could not coax the ball into the back of the net following an extended penalty area melee.
La Quinta 2, Cathedral City 0
(Jaylene Manion 7′, Marcela Gallo 47′)
Yellow cards: La Quinta: 1 (Tatiana Woodworth)
The player: Jaylene Manion, La Quinta senior forward: Manion made her intentions clear with her spectacular long-distance header that gave the Blackhawks a crucial early road goal. She just missed giving the Lions the ol’ 1-2 when she miscued another opportunity less than two minutes later. She constantly put herself in dangerous positions offensively, and wasn’t beyond tracking back into her own half to help out on defense.
The support: La Quinta’s defensive back three: senior Kayleen Sullivan, junior Elaina Leon, sophomore Monica Calderon: La Quinta’s back three were like a fence, rarely allowing trouble to brew, yet when it did, there was always an air of calm about their application of defensive techniques. They forced a majority of the Lions’ shots to come from distance, stamped out counter attacks just inside their own half, and cleared their area with authority when required.