Sports Stories

Up 2-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half against Wickenburg High School, the Sedona Red Rock High School boys soccer team pressed for a third goal, and got it.

Three more second-half goals solidified a 6-1 home victory in favor of the Scorpions [2-2, 1-0 3A Region 1] on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

But it was that third that meant a lot — it gave them more confidence for the remainder of the game, and it showed they were beginning to figure out the style of play they have been working toward.

“I just thought that I saw a different metamorphosis today, meaning that they came out of their shell a little more, I let them find out, test it out on their own and they shook off some of that nervousness,” Red Rock head coach Daniel Valenzuela said. “I think we stuck to our philosophy a little more, the philosophy of passing the ball, creating the space and then going forward.”

Even before going down 1-0 to the Wranglers [1-4], Red Rock was dominating ball possession.

Scorpions sophomore midfielder Clark Borjon was the player of the match, scoring four goals and creating many more chances. Borjon and the rest of the midfield inspired a bevy of opportunities with quick passing, one-two connections and through balls.

“Our team was playing really good, we were playing the game we like, passing the ball,” Borjon said. “They were a good team, too. We know how to play, we practice a lot for this and these are the results.”

The host’s lone, glaring weakness was giving up the quick counterattack. When the Scorpions did turn the ball over, Wickenburg booted the ball up the field and used its speed. It led to Wranglers junior midfielder Johann Soreia’s fourth goal of the season in the 13th minute.

It came after Red Rock senior midfielder Justin Wassell sent a free kick to the far post, which Borjon connected to with a bicycle kick, saved by Wickenburg senior goalkeeper Keaton Eustace.

Sophomore forward Ben Philo came close at the midway mark, after Wassell dribbled around a defender and hit him with a low diagonal ball. Philo touched to his left and shot back to the low corner, missing wide.
Scorpions sophomore forward Ben  Philo is separated by teammates during a confrontation late in the second half.
Three minutes later Borjon tied the game. He and senior midfielder Julian Travaglia exchanged through the midfield, then embarked on a run past two defenders into the box, whose deflected shot went between the keeper’s legs.
Wassell put home a rebound in the 30th minute to take the lead. Wickenburg had two more strong counterattacks, the second forcing a save from Red Rock junior goalkeeper Alberto Piña.

With the home bench egging them on, the Scorpions found that third goal. Philo swung a corner into the box, Wassell’s close-range attempt was saved, but Borjon tapped it in with less than a minute to go.

The Scorpions loosened up even more in the second half, passing and flicking the ball around the field and moving to create space without it. And whenever they lost the ball, they were hungry to get it back.

Even though the Wranglers hit the woodwork twice in the first 10 minutes, afterwards, it was all Red Rock.
Borjon scored on a counterattack. Ten minutes later Philo aired a through ball down the middle from near midfield to sophomore forward Michael Lagorio, who outran the defense and scored in stride from 16 yards.

“I think it’s because of the fact that we learned some lessons from the past three games, and I think the boys are starting to get a more solid picture of what their role is inside of there and kind of what they should expect in a game,” Valenzuela said.

Borjon finished the scoring. He and Wassell played a one-two pass, Wassell brought the ball into the box where Borjon picked it up, split two defenders and fired into the top corner.

“Golazo,” assistant coach Reuben Philo yelled after, because it was another example of precisely how the team wants to play, albeit to the chagrin of the frustrated Wranglers side. Things got chippy throughout the second half, with players from both sides needing to be separated twice. Philo and Wranglers junior defender Oscar Navarrete were each shown yellow cards.

Note: This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, to correct the name of the Red Rock goalkeeper.