TPAA jumps out to early lead, holds on to vic­tory

Griffins win firstround match for third straight year

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By ALAN HENDRY Val­ley Press Staff Writer

PALM­DALE — The Palm­dale Aerospace Academy boys soc­cer team had a strong start to its play­off opener on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

A two-goal ad­van­tage proved to be enough against Aquinas in a 2-1 Griffins’ vic­tory in a CIF-South­ern Sec­tion Divi­sion 6 first-round game at the Palm­dale Aerospace Academy High School.

Palm­dale Aerospace (14-4-1) ad­vances to the sec­ond round for the third con­sec­u­tive sea­son and will play the win­ner of Wed­nes­day’s Sul­tana/Sil­ver­ado match in the sec­ond round on Fri­day.

“The be­gin­ning is where it counts,” Palm­dale Aerospace sopho­more Car­los Mendez said. “If you get an early lead, it will help you out through­out the game. It kind of makes it com­fort­able. That can also be a prob­lem as well. A team gets too com­fort­able, ev­ery­one loses their guard and stuff like the first goal against us hap­pens.”

Mendez scored from five-yards out in the third minute for the Griffins, redi­rect­ing a free kick by sopho­more Al­varo Pa­ni­agua from 40 yards out.

“It was a tough game. I feel we could have put more ef­fort into it,” Mendez said. “We played good, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough for us. There were lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties that should have and would have gone in to make the game eas­ier. It would have helped a lot.

“It’s a lit­tle bit of nerves, start­ing off play­offs. The re­cov­ery. All the boys get­ting cramps. There’s not

enough re­cov­ery in the team. But I feel that over­all, that should be an easy fix and we’ll be ready for the next round.”

The Griffins had an ap­par­ent goal by ju­nior Nathan Al­varez-Que­vado from five-yards out in the sixth minute disal­lowed when he was ruled offsides.

Al­varez-Que­vado was ruled offsides on two more plays in the first 10 min­utes.

“We slowed down,” Palm­dale Aerospace coach Luis Her­nan­dez said. “The boys are com­plain­ing about be­ing tired, but the first 15 min­utes we were on them. On them. There were three goals that should have been goals, but were called offsides. We had so many chances that it should have been 5-0 within 20 min­utes. We slowed down. It’s the first time I’ve seen them do that all sea­son. We’ve got to fig­ure it out. We’ll give them a day of rest and see what they do on Fri­day. We’re a go, go, go team. We’ve got to keep go­ing. We can’t slow down.”

Palm­dale Aerospace did score in the 18th minute, as se­nior Chris Vasquez scored from five-yards out to give the Griffins a 2-0 lead.

“We played a good style. We could have done bet­ter, but we ad­vanced and that’s good,” said Vasquez, a four-year var­sity player. “We feel that we could have had more com­mu­ni­ca­tion and less in­juries and more rhythm to the ball.

“They were a good team. We were shocked at first, but we got through it and we were able to win. We were con­fi­dent. The first half we got too com­fort­able and they were able to get a goal in.”

Aquinas sopho­more An­gel Pais scored in the 39th minute, chip­ping the ball past Palm­dale Aerospace sopho­more goalie Eman­nuel Bet­tan­court-Gar­cia from five-yards out.

Bet­tan­court-Gar­cia fin­ished with seven saves.

“I think we played re­ally well, slowed down a lit­tle bit in the sec­ond half, but the boys were de­fen­sively sound. That got us the game,” Her­nan­dez said. “We had heard of them two years ago, when we were sup­posed to play them, but then we lost to Mo­jave. They were good back then and won it that year, in 2018. So I knew they were go­ing to be good. I kept telling the boys ‘It’s the play­offs, so ev­ery team is go­ing to be tough.’ Sure enough, they came out here and gave us a re­ally good game. They gave us a run for our money, but our de­fense just held them. The de­fense did a great job.”

Aquinas won the Divi­sion 7 cham­pi­onship in 2018, beat­ing Mo­jave 2-0 in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Aquinas was moved up to Divi­sion 6 last sea­son and lost in the first round and Palm­dale Aerospace was moved up to Divi­sion 6 this sea­son.

Palm­dale Aerospace beat Big Bear 10-1 in the first round last sea­son, but lost to Thacher, 4-2 in the sec­ond round. Thacher ad­vanced to the cham­pi­onship match, los­ing to San Di­mas 5-4 for the ti­tle.

Palm­dale Aerospace won its third con­sec­u­tive Her­itage League ti­tle this sea­son, go­ing un­de­feated in league play. The Griffins also pre­pared for a tough post­sea­son, by win­ning the San Gabriel Val­ley Tour­na­ment in the pre­sea­son.

“When we went to the San Gabriel Val­ley Tour­na­ment, we faced a lot of Divi­sion 6, Divi­sion 5 teams,” Her­nan­dez said. “So the boys are used to play­ing teams like this, but it’s just been so long. It’s been so long since we’ve been play­ing tough teams, be­cause our league is kind of slow. The boys know how these play com­pet­i­tive games. We just have to wake them up and get them back to it.”

“That’s a pretty big deal, be­cause some of the best teams from San Gabriel Val­ley were there, D5, D6 teams. So it’s not like we don’t know how to play big teams, we just have to wake them up and re­mind them what it’s like.”

ALAN HENDRY Val­ley Press

LEAP­ING Palm­dale Aerospace sopho­more Car­los Mendez (4) jumps to head the ball against an Aquinas de­fender dur­ing a firstround play­off match on Wed­nes­day at Palm­dale Aerospace High. Mendez scored the first goal in the Griffins’ vic­tory.

ALAN HENDRY Val­ley Press

PRES­SURE Palm­dale Aerospace sopho­more Hans­sel Al­varezQue­vado (17) con­trols the ball against Aquinas in a first-round play­off match on Wed­nes­day.

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