Rebels score 3-1 vic­tory over Ea­gles

Quartz Hill scores 3 to beat Ea­gles

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By ALAN HENDRY Val­ley Press Staff Writer

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.

ALAN HENDRY/Val­ley Press

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.

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