Baloci, Brown-Rodriguez, and Schlutter Keep No.1 Little Hawks On Track

City High defeated Pleasant Valley (3-1) for the second time this season, advancing to the sub-state finals.

Jonathan House, Sports Editor

City High came in with a record of 16-0 and the number one ranking in the state. None of that mattered anymore as it faced Pleasant Valley on the pitch in a win or go home sub-state game. The Little Hawks didn’t let the pressure get to them, knocking off the Spartans 3-1.

“To know that we’re moving on, obviously it feels good, but our goal is not to move on in substate, our goal is to win it all eventually,” captain Victor Brown-Rodriguez ’16 said.

The Little Hawks were able to get on the scoreboard early with an own goal by the Spartans coming off of an opportunity created by Gaby Baloci ’16 in the fourth minute. After that, the Spartans played well defensively, shifting to nine or ten defenders at times. Pleasant Valley put almost no pressure on the Little Hawks’ defenders, but were able to stop all of City’s opportunities before the break.

“That’s the way that this game goes, especially when somebody’s playing you so much low pressure. There’s no spaces. You have to wait sometimes until the spaces open up,” City High head coach Jose Fajardo said. “Things open up in the second half because they can’t keep defending up and down, side to side.”

After the Little Hawks struggled to find good shots in the second half, their next chance came up in the 54th minute after a handball was called on a Pleasant Valley defender in the box. Brown-Rodriguez kicked it just past the outstretched arms of the keeper to give City the 2-0 lead.

“When it’s the second half and time’s winding down, putting a second goal on a team and them not having any chances, it’s not good for them and it’s good for us. We just got things rolling,” Brown-Rodriguez said of the momentum shift as a result of the penalty.

The Little Hawks kept attacking, and Rasmus Schlutter ’17 was able to score City’s third goal of the evening off of a cross by Baloci in the 65th minute. Pleasant Valley was able to tack on a goal with about eight minutes to play to put a little pressure on City late and to avoid the shutout, but City hung on to advance.

The Little Hawks play their next game at home on Saturday, May 28 at noon against Davenport Central.