Blackhawks girls' soccer start playoff journey on right foot

Blackhawks girls' soccer start playoff journey on right foot

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Blackhawks girls' soccer start playoff journey on right foot

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LA QUINTA

Less than 24 hours after watching the boys’ soccer team at La Quinta High School falter in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs, the girls’ squad wasted little time dispatching its opponent Friday.

The Blackhawks opened the postseason by scoring six minutes in and never looked back, ultimately claiming a 4-0 victory over Lakeside to complete the first step in returning to the Division V semifinals.

With players and coaches in the stands for the boys’ game Thursday — a 3-1 loss to Centennial — the top-seeded girls’ team was hit with a sudden dose of reality: One loss and their season would be over.

“I think yesterday, watching the boys, and seeing the heartache, that did something,” La Quinta head coach Bob Quattlebaum said. “That’s something we talked about. I told them, if they come and bring their game, I don’t think there’s anyone who can beat us.”

With that in mind, La Quinta took the field against Lakeside with a focused energy. The Blackhawks came out firing, taking it to the Lancers with three shots on goal in the first five minutes.

In the sixth minute, striker Brielle Leon dribbled the ball down the right side, cut toward the goal and fired the ball across the field when the defense collapsed. Midfielder Stephanie Esquivel took one step then drilled the ball into the back of the net.

La Quinta took the lead to 2-0 on a corner kick by Aileen Galicia in the 17th minute. She took four steps back, fired the ball in an arch toward the goal. Though Leon went to head the ball in, its trajectory carried it all the way in to the far right side of the goal.

Later, in the second half, Galicia and Leon converted on two more goals to officially put the game out of reach. But the game was over long before then.

La Quinta dominated the ball and limited the Lancers to just a pair of shots on goal.

Despite having a giant bullseye on their backs, the Blackhawks continue staying on top of their opponents, and say they’ve gained confidence and poise as a result.

“I overheard the girls talking about that target on their backs yesterday and I think realize they have to come ready to play every game,” Quattlebaum said.

The Blackhawks (21-1-1) have not lost since Dec. 14, and have allowed only a single goal in their last nine games.

And though this year’s squad is expecting to win CIF and has aspirations to do so, this game was nothing more than the first step toward reaching that goal. That mindset has allowed players to focus on each game individually, and the result was another La Quinta blowout.

“The next opponent is the only one standing in our way right now,” Leon said. “Everybody wants it, we are all striving for it, but the team mentality is to just focus on the next one, and that’s what we tried to do today.”

La Quinta plays Maranatha on Wednesday at a site to be determined by coin flip.

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