REDLANDS — With 34 goals this season, Redlands East Valley senior Cruz Navarro could just let his offense do his talking on the soccer pitch. Without good communication the Wildcats might not be as successful as a team.
Navarro had four goals and an assist in REV’s 5-1 victory over Oak Hills on Friday in a second round match of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
The Wildcats improved their record to 16-4-2, and will host top-seeded Palmdale (18-1-2) in a quarterfinal match Tuesday.
“We weren’t communicating well at the start of the season, but as the season has progressed we needed to get more serious,” Navarro said. “The captains got everyone together and urged the team not to goof around.”
REV coach Mario Urbano, who has coached the program for nine years, said Navarro has been on the varsity squad since he was a freshman. He said Navarro had gone through a transition to be more serious as a junior and senior.
“As a freshman, he (Navarro) was a little too passive,” Urbano said. “This year, he told me he wanted to be a captain. He has stepped up as a leader.”
Last year, REV won the Citrus Belt League but lost an opening-round game to Bloomington. The team started slowly this season because some players had some nagging injuries. Getting healthier and developing a more serious mindset has led to success as the season has progressed.
Navarro scored three of his goals in the first 17 minutes. The opening score came after taking a long pass , which Navarro called “perfect.” He drilled it into the bottom right corner. The second goal came in the 11th minute on a penalty kick after he had been taken down inside the 18-yard box.
“On the third goal, Landon (Garcia) passed me the ball,” Navarro said. “I saw the goalkeeper lean toward the left post, so I shot the ball to the right.”
The third goal removed any doubt about the eventual outcome. Navarro asked Urbano for a rest break at the start of the second half. It proved wise. His fourth goal came after another pass from Garcia, and Navarro drilled a shot into the upper left corner just outside the 18.
Navarro’s finest play was his corner kick to assist on teammate Matthew Thong’s goal.
“I usually don’t take corner kicks, but the guy who usually takes them wasn’t in the game,” Navarro said. “I saw Matt at the top of the six and knew he would make a run toward the goal.”
Oak Hills prevented the shutout when Chris Urena scored in the 73rd minute. The Bulldogs finished with a 19-4-2 record and a Mojave River League championship. First-year coach Victor Aguirre said he was pleased with the season despite the disappointing finale. He was also very impressed with Navarro.
“He (Navarro) is extremely dynamic and difficult to defend,” Aguirre said. “He is a very intelligent dribbler and seems to have a sixth gear.”