HEMET There was a momentary break in the action, and the last thing on Marcos Rojo’s mind was scoring a goal.
He was focused on equipment repair.
“I was fixing my shin guard during a throw-in,” said Rojo, a sophomore forward for Tahquitz. “The only reason I even looked up was because a teammate told me to.”
It didn’t take Rojo long to size up the moment. He alertly stole the ball and chipped it over the goalkeeper, helping the Titans secure an important 4-0 Mountain Pass League victory over visiting Hemet Friday.
Tahquitz improved to 7-6-5 and 4-1-1 in league. The Titans trail Beaumont (5-1) by one-half game in the league standings.
“We were able to dominate the game because one of our strengths is holding possession of the ball,” Tahquitz coach Hugo Gorosave said. “Our players were very precise on their passes, and they created space that allowed us room to pass it off to each other while driving the ball toward our opponent’s goal.”
Rojo’s unassisted goal in the 11th minute of the first half helped his team get off to a good start.
“Once I looked up, the guy threw the ball to his teammate, and I quickly rushed him,” Rojo said. “As soon as I did that, the keeper came out and I shot it over him.”
Rojo’s quick-reaction score was all the scoring the Titans would need. Hemet managed only three shots on goal.
“On offense, Tahquitz was able to keep up the pressure, and were able to finish,” said Hemet coach Jason Hogan after his team dropped to 4-11, 3-3. “Defensively, their whole line was able to shut us down.”
The Bulldogs, who upset Beaumont, 3-1, a week ago, have lost three in a row.
“We didn’t move the ball very well tonight,” said Hemet senior forward Matt Parker. “Our first touches were not the best.”
Two other sophomores accounted for the other three Tahquitz goals. Midfielder Eriq Rodriguez headed one past the Hemet goalie at the 29th minute mark of the first half for a 2-0 lead.
“We have our simple passes down, and fighting for league makes us work harder to get the wins,” said Rodriguez, who capitalized on a pinpoint throw-in from sophomore midfielder Hunter Thornton. “We attack as a unit and defend as a unit.”
Thornton scored the final two goals. He took a pass from Gerald Barrientos and one-timed it into the net for a 3-0 lead.
“After half time we wanted to keep the shut out, so we continued to play aggressively to control the ball,” said Thornton, who scored an unassisted goal on an angle shot at the 69-minute mark.
Junior goalie Kevin Young’s three saves contributed to his third shutout of the season.
Ball control continues to be a point of emphasis for the surging Titans.
“All of my defenders understand that they must be physical on the ball and they also understand that they must always minimize any risks and not allow our opponents opportunities to counterstrike us,” Gorosave said.