Rebels score 3-1 victory over Eagles
Quartz Hill scores 3 to beat Eagles
QUARTZ HILL — Despite frigid temperatures on Thursday night, the Quartz Hill boys soccer team had a hot start in its Golden League match against Lancaster.
The Rebels scored two goals in the first nine minutes of their first league match in almost three weeks.
Quartz Hill added a goal early in the second half and held on for a 3-1 win against Lancaster at Quartz Hill High School.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve prided ourselves on this season is being able to get a couple or one within the first couple of minutes,” Quartz Hill coach Robert Gonzalez said. “Our issue has been not being able to put the game away and that’s something that we have to get better at is our offensive finishing.”
Quartz Hill (5-4, 4-2) and Lancaster (5-9-2, 1-4) were playing a makeup game in what was originally scheduled as the league opener in early December.
Weather wasn’t a factor in Thursday’s match, although the temperature was in the low 40s.
It didn’t affect the Rebels, who scored in the second minute of the match.
Quartz Hill senior Victor Jimenez chipped in a shot in front of the goal off a throw-in.
“We played good. It was really good teamwork, but the other team fought hard,” Jimenez said. “It’s all about teamwork, touching and communication.”
The Rebels added a goal just seven minutes later, as senior Kaylon Williams was on a breakaway with a few Lancaster defenders pressuring him. Williams struck from 10 yards out over the head of Lancaster senior goalie Jorge Escobedo, giving Quartz Hill a 2-0 lead that would stand at halftime.
“Honestly I think it was just pressure, pressure in the box and communicating with each other and everybody doing all of their work at their positions,” Jimenez said of the early goals.
Both teams failed to capitalize on a few more scoring opportunities in the first half.
Lancaster had a shot sail high by freshman Diego Jauregui off a corner kick in the 40th minute. It was one of a handful of times the Eagles had a loose ball in front of the Quartz Hill goal, but could not put it away.
“I would say thanks to the whole defense communicating and calling for the ball and saying that they have it,” Quartz Hill junior goalie Divontae Williams said. “Our communication through that back line saved us from having to scramble and letting them capitalize on their opportunities.
“For me, going through my mind ‘Where can they shoot it? Am I ready to go from this to that side on that?’”
Williams had six saves in the match and benefitted from the Rebels building a 3-0 lead.
“(Williams) had quite a few good ones,” Gonzalez said of his goalie. “I told the guys whenever we don’t have the ball, we definitely have to adapt that defensive mentality at all times. We don’t have the ball. Go get the ball. It’s something they definitely took the challenge on today and I was proud of them for that.”
Lancaster coach Jose Gutierrez said the Eagles have to capitalize on prime scoring opportunities.
“Like I told them, it’s about putting anything you can put, any body part, you can put in front of the goal,” Gutierrez said. “We have to be a little more aggressive on those. We have our opportunities, but we have to make sure we’re being aggressive and finishing up in front of the goal.”
Jimenez scored his second goal in the 53rd minute from eight yards out.
Quartz Hill showed no affects from a layoff, although the Rebels played in the Hart Tournament after Christmas.
“It was really tough, with the snow and all that,” Jimenez said of the Christmas break. “We had lost our second game against Dos Pueblos (in the Hart Tournament), but we came back to training. We trained hard and got back to it.”
Lancaster kept up its offensive pressure in the second half, coming close to finally breaking through in the 64th minute
A shot by Lancaster sophomore Christopher Pena from 20 yards out was saved, but juggled by Williams, who recovered to secure the ball.
“I was lucky enough to be put into it last year by the coach to shadow and watch how the players would play to see how it would be for me this year,” Williams said.
Tempers momentarily flared in the 66th minute when Escobedo and Quartz Hill senior Joe Quintanilla collided on a play and exchanged shoves before the official intervened.
Lancaster struck in the 73rd minute, when senior Noah Clark scored on a throw in from the 5-yard line on the visitor’s side, as the high throw-in went through Williams’ hands.
“I feel that we played really well. Our offense and defense connection right through the mids was really good today,” Williams said. “Though they gave us a little start, we did play through and did really well together.”
Escobedo had several saves for the Eagles.
“We played well for a majority of the game, unfortunately we started off very slow and gave up two quick goals,” Gutierrez said. “It’s hard to come back from a two-goal deficit. We just have to make sure we’re mentally prepared to start the game at the beginning. We can’t give up those cheap goals to start off a match like that.”
Gutierrez said the Eagles already have more wins than last season, including a 3-2 win over Palmdale on Dec. 13.
“We have improved from last season,” said Gutierrez, who is in his third season as head coach, in his second stint as the Eagles’ coach.
Gutierrez said he hopes the Eagles can clinch a playoff berth, their first since 2012.
“We’re a very young team this year,” Gutierrez said. “We have a new group. Our expectations is we have to compete in league.”
Lancaster will play at Knight on Monday in another makeup game and Quartz Hill will host Palmdale on Wednesday, when the rest of the league resumes league play.
DEEP THROW — Quartz Hill’s Jaxon Oliver throws in the ball from the sideline during a Golden League makeup match against Lancaster at Quartz Hill High on Thursday. The Rebels won 3-1.
FOOT ACTION Lancaster’s Noah Clark (27) tries to get the ball past the Quartz Hill defense during Thursday’s game. Clark scored the lone goal for the Eagles in a 3-1 loss.