PALMDALE — The Palmdale boys soccer team heated up in the second half of its playoff match on Tuesday, despite cold temperatures, intermittent drizzle and occasional snow.
The Falcons scored three second-half goals to break a tie with visiting Mountain View and score a 4-1 victory in a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 Wild-Card match at Palmdale High School.
Palmdale (9-6-4, 8-5-1), which finished third in the Golden League, will play at No. 1 seed Hesperia in a first-round match on Thursday.
“At first it was a little rough, but we came back and picked it up in the second half,” Palmdale senior Nelson Ortez said. “We picked up the energy. We put in more effort. We gave it our all.
“We were aggressive from the beginning of the game all the way to the end.”
Palmdale senior George Chavez scored the first of his two goals in the 11th minute to tie the game at 1-1, after Mountain View struck in the eighth minute by senior Ramon Hernandez off a throw-in from the 25-yard line.
Chavez scored from 15 yards out on a breakaway, past the charging Mountain View goalie.
The Falcons had several opportunities in the first half, including a few off set pieces, but they were unable to capitalize.
“I feel it was definitely a lucky start,” Chavez said. “We were just not clicking right until the second half and then we finally started getting rolling. I think it was we got a little bit more confidence. We really wanted to win this game.
“Eventually one of these is going to go in, we just got to keep going at it.”
The Vikings (7-12-5), which finished third in the Mission Valley League, nearly seized the momentum early in the second half.
Mountain View freshman Manuel Soza had a shot deflected by Palmdale senior goalie Alan Martinez in the second minute of the second half, a quick followup shot was blocked by Palmdale’s Anthony Robles. A third attempt by the Vikings went high.
Two minutes later Martinez saved a shot on a free kick from 10 yards out on the right side, after the referee ruled Martinez had touched the ball outside of the box.
After weathering that early attack in the second half, the Falcons responded with an onslaught of their own, missing on a few attempts in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“Sometimes halftimes are good to get the guys going,” Palmdale coach Christian Hernandez said. “More of anything it was a confidence thing for us. We told the guys the game was open for us to take. They rose up to the occasion and we came out and got aggressive like we know how. That’s what happens with this team. When we’re aggressive we can get quite a few goals, as you can see. We got three goals in one half.
“I felt our first half was a lot of reaction from our guys and more of staying active. The second half we were active. When we stay active, we’re a team that can score and we’re going to have opportunities. We just have to keep them on frame and go out and compete.”
Palmdale scored the go-ahead goal in the 61st minute, when Ortez scored from 10 yards out on a cross pass by senior Ricardo Ramirez.
“It’s big,” Ortez said of the playoff win. “It means a lot to potentially be CIF champs.”
Ortez had a free kick from 25 yards out hit the cross bar in the 66th minute.
Chavez scored his second goal in the 78th minute, on a spectacular bicycle kick from 10 yards in front of the goal.
Chavez said he has tried a bicycle kick multiple times during the regular season, but had not been successful.
“I had multiples earlier in the season and it just hasn’t come out,” Chavez said. “After attempting it and having it not working out a couple of times, it feels pretty good to have it actually go in. I felt confident doing that one.”
The Falcons added a goal in stoppage time, after Mountain View sophomore Jason Pineda received a yellow card for taking down a Palmdale player on a breakaway.
Palmdale senior Javier Garcia scored on the free kick from 15 yards out, nailing the top far corner, out of the reach of the leaping Mountain View goalie.
“It feels really good, that we’ve really improved over the years,” Chavez said of the playoff win.
Palmdale had momentum entering the match, having won four consecutive matches before ending the regular season with a 1-1 tie with Golden League champion Knight.
It was the Falcons’ first playoff win in four years under coach Hernandez.
“We’ve got one day to prepare and be ready to be on the road,” Hernandez said.
It was also the first time for many players playing in the snow, although it was a light snow and did not stick.
“It’s hard to adjust,” Hernandez said of the weather. “I told the guys ‘It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.’ This team trains in the rain. Rain or shine we’re doing training sessions for moments like this. We knew what the ball gives us when our turf gets wet. We’re ready for it. Keep the ball in front of us. That’s why we do these practices in the rain.”
The match was originally scheduled for 3 p.m., but moved to 5 p.m. to allow more fans to attend.
“The time change was to get as many parents as we could out here,” Hernandez said. “With a 4:30 game, a lot of these parents are not able to watch these kids play. We took that into consideration. We wanted to have fans out here and as you can see we had a good fans and good motivation for the guys.”
The Vikings lost in the first round last season, but have qualified for the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons, including winning back-to-back CIF Southern Section championships in 2009 and 2010. Mountain View won its first title in 2005.
“They played good, but we basically missed it on the goals,” Mountain View assistant coach Jaime Puente said. “We should have scored early that we missed. But they have a good team. When they had an opportunity, they scored, so there’s nothing we can do.”