No more than four minutes after coming on as a substitute to spell yellow-carded midfield general Daniel Alexander, La Quinta sophomore midfielder Andy Teran got the crucial second-half goal that spurred the Blackhawks to a 4-2 win over Palm Springs in their Desert Valley League clash on Wednesday.
La Quinta senior Jesus Avalos (5, center) congratulates teammate Aaron Mendoza (18, left) and junior Adam Lopez (17, right) after Mendoza scored to put the Blackhawks up 2-0 in the first half over Palm Springs during a boys soccer game on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. La Quinta went on to win, 4-2.
La Quinta coach Gary Nadler felt he had to make a personnel move when Alexander was booked six minutes into the second half with the match level at 2-2. Teran made the most of the opportunity when he got in a tangle for a loose ball in the Indians’ penalty area, stuffed an attempted defensive clearance, then poked the resulting loose ball past Palm Springs’ goalkeeper Victor Mendoza.
It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it was a valuable one, giving the Blackhawks (16-5-1) a 3-2 lead in 50th minute, a lead they would not relinquish. They capped the win in style when senior midfielder Jared Ortiz headed a cross from senior defender Isaac Sanchez across the face of the goal and into the back of the net in the 80th minute, sealing the victory.
“It’s all about coaching. That’s our thing, we’ve got these secret plays,” laughed Nadler. “Really, depending on our formation he (Andy) may be a starter, he may not. But was strong on the ball there … he beat the Palm Springs guy to the ball and put it in the net.”
La Quinta had a chance to make it an easy night by scoring two first-half goals inside five minutes. Junior forward Adam Lopez had a chance early in the game, drifting in from the right but firing his left-footed shot well wide. In the 17th minute, he made the same move but this time he made no mistake, curling his left-footed shot past the diving Mendoza and into the lower left-hand corner of the goal for a 1-0 La Quinta lead. Just two minutes later, La Quinta forward Jesus Avalos zipped a ball in from the left flank where it was turned into the back of the net by charging senior midfielder Aaron Mendoza, giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.
The Indians got their breakthrough four minutes later, when senior forward Brandon Montano streaked down the right flank and sent in a cross that was touched home by senior midfielder Miguel Montealegre in the 25th minute. It was the third goal in an eight-minute span, and it cut LaQuinta’s lead to 2-1.
La Quinta looked shaky throughout the half on set pieces coming in from their left, and they conceded the equalizer one minute into injury time off a free kick from that very area. Montealegre lifted a cross in to the far post, where Montano nodded it past Sebastian Ascencio to level the score at 2-2 with 41 minutes played.
The game had plenty of implications in the Desert Valley League race. La Quinta now has a firm grasp on first with an 8-1 record. Palm Springs falls into a jumble of teams now battling for that second-place spot at 5-3-1.
Star of the Game
Adam Lopez, La Quinta: The junior forward was human electricity on the ball all night, causing problems in and around the Palm Springs penalty area and maintaining possession when necessary. His early goal gave the Blackhawks their first lead, and once in the the lead in the second half, his ball skills helped La Quinta kill off the game.
Daniel Alexander, La Quinta: At 6-4, 165, Alexander cut an imposing figure in the midfield. He was perhaps fortunate not to be show a second yellow card for a hard foul in the 62nd minute, but it was his presence and willingness to be physical that helped La Quinta see out the win.
Both teams will host matches Friday at 5 p.m. La Quinta (16-5-1, 8-1) will take on Xavier Prep, while Palm Springs (11-8-2, 5-3-1) faces Indio.