Sports Stories

The Sedona Red Rock High School boys soccer team improved to 3-0 on the season after stopping a late comeback attempt from visiting Wickenburg High School, 3-2, on Dec. 6.

After going up 2-0 in the first half and leading 3-0 during the second, the Scorpions allowed Wickenburg to climb back into the game with two late goals.

“In the first three quarters of the game we did great,” first-year head coach Johan Lagercrantz said. “It was the best I’ve seen.”

The Wranglers had the first opportunity of the game, with forward Ricardo Davaloz finding fellow forward Chris Smith, but Scorpions goalkeeper Jose Lopez successfully smothered the ball.

Just before 10 minutes had gone by, Red Rock center defender Daniel Bouvin, a first-year exchange student from Sweden, rocketed a shot off his right foot from 25 yards out that narrowly missed the right corner.

In the early stages of the game, the Scorpions were comfortable, controlling the possession and forcing the Wickenburg defense to work. Red Rock earned four corner kicks within the first 12 minutes of the game.

The Scorpions consistently sent long balls in deep as the forwards were able to outrun the Wranglers defense. Striker Evan Favorite repeatedly found himself on the receiving end of those long passes, and was able to outleg the defense, but Wickenburg goalkeeper Keaton Eustace was there to disrupt each opportunity.

With just under 14 minutes to go, Favorite found the back of the net, not once but twice, during a span of just more than two minutes.

Just as he had been threatening to do all game, Favorite got on the end of a long ball from Magdiel Lagunas in the midfield, outran the defense, but this time calmly chipped the ball over the approaching Eustace. For the second goal, Favorite found the ball at his feet thanks to a pass from Benjamin Philo, rounded the goalkeeper with one touch and rolled the ball into the back of the net.

And the Scorpions did not stop attacking there.

Red Rock midfielder Clark Diaz had a left-footed try of his own, collecting the ball just outside the penalty area and taking one dribble to his left to open a shooting lane, but the shot flew wide.
On the cusp of halftime, Favorite used a bit of individual skill to get free down the right side and swung in a cross for Philo, who volleyed over.

Defensively, Bouvin, nicknamed the “Swedish Wall," stood out with his body and ball control to neutralize any growing threat from the Wranglers.

“This was his best game so far,” Lagercrantz, who also hails from Sweden, said. “He’s a great athlete with a good body and he’s using it in the right way. He’s definitely a key player in our team.”

In the second half, Red Rock’s lead grew to three after a goal from Nathan Hoyer by way of a Philo cross. However, once the Scorpions netted the third, they got even hungrier to score more.

“We got a little excited with the 3-0 lead,” Lagercrantz said. “We got a little sloppy in midfield and allowed Wickenburg to have opportunities on the counterattack. It was exciting at the end, unnecessarily exciting for me.”

Lagercrantz pointed out his team’s lack of concentration and defensive effort in the midfield as the culprit to the Wranglers’ run at a comeback.

“We need to do better defensive work in the midfield, the defensive line was left alone when Wickenburg scored their two goals,” Lagercrantz said. “We didn’t clear the ball they way we should, we tried dribbling too much and it didn’t work out. [Wickenburg] pretty much had three or four opportunities and they scored two of them.”

In the second half, Red Rock used its substitutes to give chances to the rest of the 23 players on the roster.

“We rotated a bit, too, it’s early in the season,” Lagercrantz said. “We wanted to rotate a lot, so maybe that created a different structure to the game. Overall we feel good that we won; Wickenburg was undefeated. It’s a good foundation for the rest of the season, we just need to work on our concentration for the whole 80 minutes.”

SRRHS next competes Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Coyote Soccer Classic at Arizona Lutheran Academy.