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Aztecs soccer at Palmdale Tournament

PALMDALE • The Barstow boys soccer team is getting a crash course in starting the season at the Palmdale Falcon Classic Tournament. The Aztecs played two games on Friday, and will play two more today.

Friday was a split, with a win and loss. The win came against West Shores, a 1-0 victory.
The score was close and the game was evenly-played, with two well-matched teams. It was a matter of taking advantage of opportunities and playing heads-up ball, both of which the Aztecs did.

The game’s lone goal came about midway through the first half. With Barstow on the attack, a Wildcats defender attempted to clear the ball, but it deflected off another defender and was corraled by Raul Espinosa. Espinosa took off on a breakaway and descended on the Shores keeper, beating him one-on-one.

The Aztecs made that one goal stand, though there was a close call in the second half. In a similar situation, there was a loose ball in front of the Barstow net, and a quick-acting Alejandro Estrada pounced on it and cleared it out.

“That was a crucial play,” said Aztecs head coach Terri Peralta. “I think they definitely would have scored if Alejandro hadn’t gone back to clear.”

The Wildcats took 11 shots, seven on frame, to Barstow’s nine. Zohar Mejia played in net in the first half, making four saves, while Simon Sanchez took over as keeper in the second, and came up with three saves.

The day’s first game didn’t go as well, a 5-0 loss to host team Palmdale.

Coach Peralta is still working a few things out during these season-starting non-league games. She’s currently carrying a roster of about 20 players, which will be cut by a few before the Desert Sky League schedule begins.

“I’m using these non-leaguers to try out a few things; making some adjustments, looking at who would be a best fit for varsity,” she said. “I want to give every kid a look, and I’m doing that during the tournament.”

Both the trying out of various things and the overall strength of the Falcons’ squad were the deciding factors in this match.

“They have a strong club team program with a lot of good players to pick from. They run a great, well-organized attack,” Peralta said. “They got four goals in the first half and then one early in the second, and then we shut them down. We settled down and played at a higher level.

“We’re still trying out a lot of different positions. We mixed some things up and they capitalized on it. By next week the roster should be finalized. There are a lot of talented individuals on this team, so I have some tough decisions to make.”

The Aztecs will be at Apple Valley on Tuesday, and will play their first home game Thursday, starting at 3 p.m. against Sultana.

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