As the afternoon turned to evening without the benefit of stadium lights, the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert girls’ soccer teams played in one of the most intense finishes in the valley this season.
For the first 69 minutes of the match only a single goal was scored, yet the two teams had combined for a staggering 16 shots on goal. No lead was safe.
Both teams aggressively pushed the ball on offense. Several shots came within inches of sailing past the opposing goalkeeper.
And in the final 11 minutes of regulation and overtime, the flood gates finally opened.
Coachella Valley was the team that came out on top, escaping with a 3-2 victory in overtime. Trailing and held scoreless for much of the match, the Arabs managed to sneak in all three of their goals within a stretch of 12 minutes.
It was freshman April Villa who scored the game-winning goal in the second minute of the first of two 10-minute overtime periods.
“At halftime, I told the girls our stats,” Coachella Valley head coach Francisco Morales said. “We controlled possession and we had eight shots, and I told them good things would happen if they kept their attitude and if they kept fighting.”
But if it were not for leading scorer Alondra Gutierrez, there’s a chance CV would have never made it to the overtime period.
Trailing 1-0 late in the match, Gutierrez used a header off a corner kick to tie the score in the 69th minute.
Gutierrez ultimately left the game with a right knee injury.
“Once that first goal went in, we were like ‘OK, we got this,’ ” CV defender Kayla Torres said. “No matter the score, anything can happen whether it’s 10 minutes, two minutes. We just held our ground, we proved ourselves against a really good team.”
Moments later, Mariana Moreno gave the lead back to Palm Desert. Jordan Quattlebaum drilled a free kick from midfield and CV goalie Elizabeth Angulo made a brilliant save. But on the rebound, Moreno was able to fire it into the net.
Afton Kalkoske had a chance to add an exclamation point for Palm Desert (5-9-1, 2-2 Desert Valley League), yet her shot in the open field bounced hard off the right goalpost and Coachella Valley (8-4, 2-1 DVL) remained in the game.
In the 79th minute, Nancy Larios again tied the game for the Arabs as the sun disappeared over the mountains.
Due to construction at Coachella Valley High School, the game was played on an auxiliary field without lights. But as the game extended into overtime, the ball was difficult to follow and it may have contributed to the barrage of goals in final moments.
The win was a crucial one for CV as the DVL season begins to heat up.
Still, Palm Desert head coach Chris Keuilian wasn’t concerned with that after the game. Not with how well his team played in a tough road environment.
“I couldn’t ask for anything from the girls that they didn’t already give,” he said. “They played extremely hard. They communicated. They showed heart. Sometimes soccer can just be cruel.”