Four goals in a six-minute span spurred the Sedona Red Rock High School boys soccer team to a 6-2 win over North Phoenix Preparatory Academy in its 3A Region 1 opener on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The Scorpions [1-1, 1-0 3A Region 1] relied heavily on beating the Gladiators, a co-ed team, down the right side and crossing the ball to create their best scoring chances, including three of their goals.
“I thought we started very shaky at the beginning, confused as far as setting up our shape, and so the other team took the lead,” Scorpions head coach Daniel Valenzuela said. “We just let them know you have to take a chance, because in the first half they couldn’t get a pass together.”
Red Rock dominated the second half despite going down 2-1 eight minutes in and playing without two of its best playmakers in sophomores Ben Philo and Clark Borjon.
Valenzuela talked about the team using two reference points in the attacking part of the field and finding them with more accurate passing. By doing so, the team began to take control.
Three minutes into the half, a cross from senior midfielder Justin Wassell found a teammate in front of the six-yard box. A poor shot attempt saw the shot go wide of the goal.
North Phoenix Prep controlled the next few minutes, earning a free kick at the edge of the penalty box that sailed high.
The Gladiators finally broke through on a free kick from about 20 yards out.
Ten minutes later the Scorpions leveled the game. Senior forward Julian Travaglia received a through ball down the right. With no defenders to stop him, Travaglia fired home to the goalkeeper’s near post.
It sparked the four-goal, six-minute interchange of strikes between Travaglia and sophomore forward Michael Lagorio that put the game to bed. Most of the attempts at goals became more controlled, giving the Scorpions extra chances from corners.
Lagorio’s game-winner came from a simple ball over the top of the Gladiators defensive four. His hard shot dribbled through the goalkeepers hands and in.
Travaglia got possession after a defender’s poor touch, and gained the endline before pulling the ball back towards the penalty spot. Lagorio met the ball, putting it home one-time — making it 4-2 Red Rock.
Lagorio and Travaglia reversed roles to score the fifth in the exact manner as the fourth.
Friday, Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
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“The best part that I liked was that they started to shoot a little more accurately for the goals that did go in,” Valenzuela said.
Travaglia was then placed into the Scorpions’ defense, and later on as goalkeeper for the final eight minutes.
Gail Mojica scored the final goal with three minutes left. Senior midfielder Alan Ruvalcaba won the ball in the Gladiators’ defensive corner and sent the ball through the penalty area for Mojica to connect with.
Even though the team won, Valenzuela wants to see more offensive balance, using the entire field, and more movement without the ball.
“We’re going to have to work a lot on our first touch, a lot on our turning, awareness, and a lot on our vision,” Valenzuela said.