PALMDALE — The Palmdale Aerospace Academy boys soccer team scored early in its first-round playoff match and just kept scoring.
The Griffins scored in the second minute of its CIF-Southern Section Division 7 first-round match against Big Bear, finished with six goals in the first half and cruised to a 10-1 victory at the Lancaster National Soccer Center.
Palmdale Aerospace (19-8-2) advances to the second round for the second consecutive season and will play at Thacher on Saturday. Thacher beat Oakwood 3-2 in the first round on Thursday.
“I feel very proud of our team,” Palmdale Aerospace Academy junior Angel Gonzalez said. “We worked from the beginning to the end. Moving the ball with us has always been something strong we can do.
“Coming into this game, we didn’t know what to expect. We just gave it our all from the very beginning. It seemed to work out.”
Gonzalez scored in the second minute, putting in a shot from five yards out after two of his teammates were denied.
Gonzalez finished with three goals, all in the first 29 minutes. He scored in the 10th and 29th minutes, both on short chip shots from eight yards out. The second goal gave the Griffins a 4-0 lead.
Gonzalez, who had a hat trick once during the regular season, said the Griffins were motivated by their quick start.
“We started getting more pumped up, more excited to get back into the game,” Gonzalez said. “Our goal is always to get as far as we can, if not win the whole CIF.”
Palmdale Aerospace senior Humberto Diaz scored in 13th minute from 20 yards, sending the ball to the far corner of the goal.
Palmdale Aerospace Academy junior Chris Vasquez scored the first of his four goals in the 32nd minute, off a pass from junior Rafael Aguila.
“We played good. We had a good style of touching,” said Vasquez, who had three goals once in a regular season game this season. “I feel like our chemistry was really great. We like to do penetrating passes to get in more instead of shooting more.”
Vasquez said the Griffins capitalized on their early goal.
“It gave us motivation,” Vasquez said. “We felt like we could score more and we succeeded.”
Vasquez scored from 20 yards out in the 35th minute, hitting the far post, which bounced in to give the Griffins a 6-0 halftime lead.
“I think they played really well,” Palmdale Aerospace Academy coach Luis Hernandez said. “They played how they’re supposed to. A lot of the goals they scored is how we’re supposed to score. It’s really good to see that they weren’t moving away from the system, but using the system. We play a system based soccer here. We kind of tell the boys how to play. We still give them freedom, but there’s a specific way to score. That means a lot of guys are scoring and a lot of guys are getting involved and that’s exactly how we played today.”
Hernandez said his players were able to capitalize on their game plan early.
“We’re a high pressure team,” Hernandez said. “We come out and we always want to get the first goal, because we always play better when we get the first goal. Coming out and putting on the pressure gave us a chance to score early, that’s what we want to do.
“Once the boys figured out the defense and they were able to see how to we can penetrate, it was easy for us to get through. It takes them a couple of minutes to figure out the defense, but once they do they know how to expose the weak spots.”
Big Bear (12-12-1), which finished fourth in the Cross Valley League, scored its lone goal in the first minute of the second half, on a header by Jet Pina from a free kick from the 45-yard line by Omar Pacheco.
It would be one of the rare scoring opportunities for the Bears.
The Griffins responded in the 49th minute, as Gonzalez scored his third goal, a chip in from five yards out, and added another goal from five yards out less than a minute later, giving Palmdale Aerospace an 8-1 lead.
Palmdale Aerospace freshman Carlos Mendez scored three minutes later, in the 52nd minute, from 20 yards out and freshman Osbaldo Ibarra scored in the 58th minute to finish the scoring.
Ibarra scored on a breakaway shot from 10 yards out, despite slipping on his shot.
The Griffins have at least four returning starters, including one senior.
“We have a lot of freshmen this year,” Hernandez said. “We’re really young, but it’s good. We just got to make sure the guys who weren’t here last year, they know the importance of the playoffs and the pressure. Last year a lot of guys experienced playing in the St. Bonaventure and losing to Mojave 1-0. A lot of guys felt it. We hope they learn how to handle the pressure the young guys, the new guys.”
Palmdale Aerospace won its second consecutive Heritage League title this season, tying one league match with Vasquez High, which joined the Heritage League this season.
“Especially playing them at the end really helped us out, so we know what to expect in the playoffs,” Gonzalez said of Vasquez.
Palmdale Aerospace is the No. 3 seed in Division 7, while Vasquez is the No. 4 seed.
“We’re at the top of the division, but we were at the top of the division last year and we lost in the second round,” Hernandez said. “Playing Vasquez helped a lot. But playing our preseason games, like going to the Hart Tournament and playing these big teams like AV and Eastside, I think that’s what helped us the most. We went 1-3 at the Hart Tournament, but we lost most games 1-0. We’re playing big teams in competitive games and we’re doing pretty good, I think that’s what helped us the most.”
Big Bear struggled with its passing, while it was a strength for the Griffins.
“I was proud of their effort,” Big Bear coach Derek Hoak said of his team. “(Palmdale Aerospace) is very talented. We knew coming in it would be a battle and they were going to be tough to defend.
“We came out in the second half and one of our goals was to score and we got that right off the bat. The defense did a little bit better job. The main thing is my guys didn’t quit. They didn’t hang their heads and say ‘Poor us. We lost.’ That’s what you’ve got to have. That’s heart.”
Hoak said the temperature was two degrees in Big Bear Thursday morning.
It was warmer during the afternoon match than it had been most of this week, although the condition of the field at the Lancaster National Soccer Center was not as good as most local high school fields.