It was just 12 months ago when the members of the Coachella Valley High School boys’ soccer team kept their fingers crossed and broke out their good luck charms, all in an effort to sneak into the postseason.
The Arabs lost their final game of the regular season and needed some help to keep playing. Though they ultimately made the playoffs as a wild card, players later said it was a grueling ordeal. They didn’t control their own destiny.
In a similar situation Tuesday with just four games to play, the Arabs took matters into their own hands with a dominating 5-0 victory over Palm Desert to draw even with the Aztecs for third place in the league standings.
Coachella Valley controlled the game from the start, scoring its first goal seconds in the match, then further advancing its lead to 2-0 minutes later. Thirteen minutes into the contest, it was 3-0.
Senior forward Samuel Retano, who collected his first hat trick of the season, got the Arabs (10-5-2, 5-3-1) on the board first. Ramon Felix added a goal in the fourth minute, and Christian Barragan added the third goal of the first half.
“I love how the team played today,” Retano said. “I may have scored the three goals, but we played with great chemistry and great intensity.”
Head coach Adrian Barragan said entering the game that keeping sustained intensity for the duration of a match is something that has plagued his team this season.
“It was play hard for 40 minutes, 50 minutes,” Coach Barragan said. “Finally, this was a good game because we played a complete game, start to finish.”
When his players play hard and together as a unit, Coach Barragan said, they can play with anyone. The problem is he could only count two games where the Arabs played hard for the full 80 minutes.
That was remedied against Palm Desert (11-8-3, 5-4-1). Out of the intermission, Coachella Valley’s attack was relentless. Coach Barragan rotated in players to keep them from losing intensity with fatigue, and the result was two second half goals — both by Retano.
The fourth goal of the night may have been the most impressive. Retano took the ball on the far right side of the field from about 25 yards out, dribbled past two defenders and fired the ball passed the goalie Chris Hernandez and into the far left side of the net.
The Arabs continually pressured the ball on defense, and then pushed the ball once they gained possession. They played with a sense of urgency that Coach Barragan said has only been on display on occasion this season.
“Every game from here on out is huge,” Coach Barragan said. “Every win is important.”