Sometimes after a soccer match all you can do is shrug your shoulders and say, “That’s soccer.”
That was the case for the Palm Desert girls’ team Tuesday after a frustrating 1-0 home loss to California High (Whittier) in the second round of the Division 5 CIF-SS playoffs.
After a relatively even first half ended with no score, the Aztecs took control of the game after halftime. Getting the better of the possession, but not creating many shots on goal. As the clock dwindling under six minutes, and not wanting to play for overtime, the Aztecs pressed the issue, pushing up and got caught.
California, the No. 4 team in the division, gained possession at midfield and with a quick counterattack, got behind the defense and Samantha Garcia snuck past the Aztecs’ goalie for the deciding goal. Palm Desert kept attacking, but never had a dangerous strike on goal against the disciplined backline of California.
“Right before the goal, we were going to make some subs and put more pressure on,” Aztecs coach Chris Keuilian said. “We were going to take our chances. We had already done the overtime thing and we didn’t want to do that again. We were going to push and take some chances. Unfortunately we pushed up and got caught on a counter.”
And then Keuilian said those prophetic words, “That’s soccer.”
All game the Aztecs had trouble stringing passes together to get their talented goal-scorers the ball in a good scoring position. The Aztecs only mustered one corner kick the entire game, and very few effective shots on net.
The Palm Desert backline defense, led by Janie Jordan, played well as goalkeeper Alexandra Fabela only had to make one really difficult save before halftime. As a first-half corner kick bounced around in the danger zone, a California forward got a shot through which Fabela saved by sticking out her leg to deny the goal. It was the only great goal opportunity for either team in the first half.
There were some long faces after the game, particularly from seniors like goal-scoring specialist Mariana Moreno who didn’t have many chances to put her team on the board on this night. But on the whole, the Aztecs, who finished tied for second in the Desert Valley League and amassed an 18-5-2 record could hold their heads up high, according to their coach.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” he said. “Someone did the research and this is our first 18-win season as a DVL school. We played positive soccer all year and tonight. We played with heart.”
ROAD TEAMS GO 3-0
Three girls’ soccer teams picked up impressive road wins on Tuesday and earned home quarterfinal matches:
Cathedral City 4, Montclair 3: The Lions rallied from 3-1 down to pull off the big win.
La Quinta 1, Calvary Chapel Santa Ana 0: The DVL champs stayed the course with a defensive-minded W.
Shadow Hills 4, Garey 0: The De Anza champs just keep cruising through the playoffs.
On C4: Read more about these three victories.