Alondra Gutierrez was still sidelined, nursing a knee injury, leaving Coachella Valley to rely heavily on a freshman to carry the load on offense.
Captains Alexis Garcia and Kayla Torres were also out, turning what was already a daunting matchup against top-ranked La Quinta into a potential nightmare for the Arabs.
Following that script, just three minutes into Tuesday’s match the horror began.
Blackhawks’ striker Brielle Leon broke free in the early moments, moved the ball from her right foot to her left and back again, finally firing the ball past CV goalie Elizabeth Angulo for the first of many Blackhawks goals.
La Quinta exploded on offense, particularly after halftime, cruising to an 8-0 victory on the road.
“We’re starting to click,” La Quinta coach Bob Quattlebaum said. “The girls stepped it up tonight.”
The win moves the Blackhawks closer to consecutive unbeaten regular seasons in the Desert Valley League, and extends a crushing blow to the Arabs, who fall from a tie for third place all the way to sixth in the league with just four games to go.
Leon and Aileen Galicia each scored twice, and Ashly Castro, Rachael Polk, Alyssa Meza and Arianna Rodriguez also found the back of the net.
Rodriguez, La Quinta’s standout goalkeeper, was pulled from the game with about 15 minutes remaining, only to head back into action as a field player. She put the exclamation point on what had become an onslaught, and also notched her 12th shutout of the year.
Without much of an offense, and in the absence of Torres, CV’s top defender, Angulo was helpless in the net. She managed to save eight would-be goals, yet her efforts were merely a way of keeping La Quinta’s final tally from reaching double-digits.
“To me, that’s one of the top goalkeepers in the league, but we put eight goals on her,” Quattlebaum said. “She made some fantastic saves out there. It could have been double-digits very easily.”
Coachella Valley (10-7, 3-5 DVL) head coach Francisco Morales said he had complete confidence in the players who played Tuesday. But he admitted not having your star players can be tough when playing a powerhouse such as La Quinta.
Still, with or without Coachella Valley’s injured captains, it was evident that the Blackhawks are playing on level above their DVL counterparts heading down the final stretch of the regular season.
La Quinta (16-1-1, 8-0) also had a number of players either sidelined or limited, and as a result several players were playing out of position. That didn’t seem to make a difference.
“When we link passes together and do what we’re supposed to do and what coach has taught us, that’s when we really put teams away,” Leon said. “That’s how we end up scoring a lot of goals and that’s what we hope to do every game.”
La Quinta has lost one game since Feb. 26 of last year — a stretch that includes 18 games.
Players say they try not to talk publicly about their ultimate goal. Leon modestly said they want to “hopefully make it really far in CIF,” yet they are already showing signs that they are striving for something far more.
“We started the summer with Q telling us, ‘You’re going to win CIF. It’s not the goal, it’s what’s going to happen,’ ” sophomore forward Kailee Prescott said last week. “With him having that much confidence in us, we don’t want to let him down. We don’t want to disappoint him.”