It was a year ago this week when the Palm Springs boys’ soccer team began a streak that ultimately led to an unbeaten regular season in the Desert Valley League.
Now 12 months later, the power balance appears to have shifted East to La Quinta, as the Blackhawks turned away a pesky Indians’ squad on Tuesday in a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Palm Springs held La Quinta’s dangerous scoring attack in check for most of the game, but Lucas Norblom scored a goal in the 22nd minute off an assist from senior captain Jason Ocampo.
Ocampo dribbled the ball down the middle of the field and past two defenders before hitting Norblom with a pass on the right side, where he quickly fired the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards out.
Playing in just his third game of the season since being moved up from the junior varsity squad, Norblom’s goal made the difference in an otherwise tight game.
“I just got moved up,” Norblom said. “So I don’t think they knew who I was. It helped that Jason draws so much attention and allowed me to get open and get a good look.”
Norblom and Ocampo each had an opportunity in the 35th minute to add to that lead, but came up just short.
Norblom took a shot from 15 yards out that was barely saved by the fingertips of Palm Springs’ goalkeeper Victor Mendoza. On the rebound, Ocampo tapped it back in with his left foot but Mendoza got a hand on the ball and deflected it.
Moments later Ocampo found himself with the ball near the goal again. He flicked the ball up between two defenders to teammate Jesus Avalos, who used a header to attempt a shot. But it was too high, and just hit the top of the goal post.
In the second half, the Indians came within inches of tying the score. Off a corner kick, Fresh Duran received the ball and fired a shot in front of their goal from 10 yards out. La Quinta goalie Aaron Martinez made a diving save to deflect a shot that certainly would have reached the back of the net.
The Indians (4-7-3) have stayed in games this season largely because of their defense. Yet, they have only scored 17 goals in 14 games, and their futility showed again versus the Blackhawks.
A year ago, Palm Springs averaged 2.7 goals per game, and senior Hugo Vinales alone scored 31.
“Our defense is real good,” Indians head coach Jimmy Jordan said. “We’ve just got to start finding the back of the net. And eventually we will.”
Scoring hasn’t been much of a problem for La Quinta (8-1-4), a squad that has scored 27 times on the season despite having a number of players out with various injuries. Avalos recently returned after missing a month, and having him and Ocampo back together makes La Quinta a dangerous offensive team.
The Blackhawks allowed 12 goals in their first 12 games, yet head coach Gary Nadler said having the core group back improves the entire team.
And with the win, the Blackhawks are now 2-0 in the DVL and have a shot at running the table in the league much like Palm Springs did a year ago.