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Prep Boys Soccer Playoffs: Victor Valley loses to Tahquitz in wild-card round
VICTORVILLE • The Victor Valley boys soccer team has just one player who plays defense year round at the club level.
At times, the defensive unit has played well and kept things together. At others, the inexperience shined through.
Tahquitz took advantage of that inexperience Wednesday, penetrating the Jackrabbits back line with some counter attacks to pull out a 4-2 CIF-Southern Section Division 5 wild card win.
“We made mistakes at critical times on the back line, which has been our Achilles’ heel all season, and it came back and bit us again here tonight,” Victor Valley coach Bryan Musslewhite said. “You give up four goals in a game, you can’t expect to win.”
Marco Rojo scored twice to lead Tahquitz (10-8-5) to victory. He put the Titans on the board in the fifth minute and finished off the scoring in the 63rd minute.
Victor Valley (13-4-4) never led in the match, but tied the score at 2 early in the second half when Victor Palafox scored his 18th goal of the season off an assist from Werner Gramajo.
The momentum seemed to be shifting in the Jackrabbits favor, but a few minutes later Tahquitz’s Jose Godinez converted a counter opportunity and put the Titans up for good.
“Victor Valley’s defense is phenomenal,” Tahquitz coach Hugo Gorosave said. “They have (Rodrigo Lopez) back there, who is an absolute wall. One little slip is what it took.”
The Victor Valley defense, which Musslewhite said lacked in depth already, was shorthanded because it didn’t have its starting left back Christian Gomez after receiving two yellow cards in the team’s final regular-season match against Silverado.
After Rojo put the Titans up early, Mitchell Mendez extended their lead to 2-0 with a penalty kick about midway into the first half.
Victor Valley’s Christopher Gomez made it 2-1 before the half when he headed in Jesse Quezada’s pass.
“I think our offense was clicking for the most part,” Musslewhite said. “There were a few chances that we should have buried, but we didn’t. All in all, I thought our ball movement was good, and I thought we had the better possession.”
Tahquitz will play second-seeded Pasadena on Friday.
Victor Valley finished third in the Desert Sky League standings in a tight race in which Silverado and Granite Hills finished the season ranked.
“I would still say it was a success,” Musslewhite said. “It’s still a budding program. When I took over the program, they hadn’t been to the playoffs in 10, 12 years and now we’ve been the last four years. So I feel we’re still on the upward trend, but it ebbs and flows and the ball bounces in funny ways.”
Victor Valley graduates 12 players, including its top four scorers.
“We have a good young core of midfielders returning,” Musslewhite said. “Goal scoring will be a challenge, but I look forward to the challenge.”
C.J. Daft can be reached at email@example.com or at (760) 951-6275.