Palmdale success is about defense

first_img Palmdale is 11-0-3 after its elimination on penalty kicks in last week’s Hart of Newhall tournament semifinals. It was the second time this season the Falcons lost a tournament semifinal on penalty kicks. No surprise: Palmdale’s impressive start wasn’t anticipated from the team that finished near the bottom of last year’s Golden League standings, but the Falcons aren’t among the surprised. “I met them over the summer,” said Cline, a first-year coach. “I thought we’d do just fine. I saw they could play, and they’ve really picked up on things.” Many of Palmdale’s players spent the summer playing in an indoor soccer league, winning the title. They are hoping for another title during the high school season after failing to qualify for playoffs last year. Hart breaker: Quartz Hill (4-2-4) showed it is capable of playing with the best, upsetting Hart 3-2 in the Hart tournament quarterfinals. The loss was only the second of the season for the Indians (11-2-0), who were among the tournament title favorites. Although its high-scoring attack gets most of the attention, the Palmdale High boys’ soccer team credits its defense for its success. The Falcons enter today’s Golden League opener against Lancaster with eight shutouts, and they posted six in a row at one point. “Not singling anyone out, the defense all together has been doing really well,” Falcons coach Jarrod Cline said. “The defense is really good. We’ve been scoring a lot, but the defense gives the forwards and midfield more chances to get the attack going.” Center midfielders Brandon Afaro and Carlos Aguilar are have been pivotal, contributing offensively and defensively. Forward Jose Garay is the leading scorer, with 19 goals. Just as notable, Quartz Hill shut down Hart scoring machine Matt Valaika, who has 25 goals in 13 games and had combined for seven goals in two games the day before facing the Rebels. Quartz Hill was eliminated in the semifinals by Hart’s Foothill League rival Saugus. Highland riding high: Of six Golden League teams that began league play Wednesday, Highland was the only winner. The visiting Bulldogs dominated Antelope Valley 6-0. Highland senior forward Robby Gonzalaez scored three goals, and teammate Sharif Khatib provided two goals and two assists. The Bulldogs (6-4-1) could use some of that offense again tonight when they have a big game at Quartz Hill. The Rebels are coming off a scoreless tie against defending league champion Littlerock. In Wednesday’s other opener, Lancaster and Knight tied 1-1. Heather Gripp, (818) 713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more