The Sedona Red Rock High School girls soccer team used possession and composed defending to secure a 4-0 win over visiting NFL YET Academy on Dec. 15.
Outshooting the Eagles 19-1, the Scorpions, [5-1-1], were always in control against an NFL YET Academy team that struggled to string together anything in attack.
“We tell them in games like this is where we learn to play better as far as controlling, possessing, moving the ball around,” Scorpion assistant coach Dan Surber said. “And this is where we can get better because we have the time and we have the space to move the ball.”
Red Rock created a pair of chances early on that it failed to convert. The Eagles did not have their first touches in their offensive side of the field until 16 minutes into the game.
Seventeen minutes in, senior forward Malia Sonn hooked up with younger sister, freshman forward Amari Sonn, for the most impressive chance of the game. Amari struck a cross from Malia on the volley inside the penalty area, but the ball sailed over the goal.
Halfway through the first half, Amari Sonn opened the scoring. Senior midfielder Sierra Fraley played the ball down the left side to Sonn, who got on the ball and outran her defender, cutting in and finishing high to the shortside.
Five minutes later, junior midfielder Marissa Pedroza doubled the lead with a quality finish low and to the goalkeeper’s right.
Red Rock peppered the Eagle goal with six shots on goal in the first half, scoring three.
With only three seconds left Sonn netted her second goal of the game, with the assist coming from freshman Carolina Lopez-Villegas, who played as midfielder but typically plays as goalkeeper.
Surber said he has seen improvement in the players’ understanding of one another, which has led to more consistent play. The Scorpions have scored 10 goals and allowed 0 in their last two games.
“I think as a team, playing together and learning to work and support each other is a big thing,” said Surber, who has been acting as head coach in Juan Carlos Aguilar’s absence. “Because I think now we’re transitioning better from the defense to the midfield and into the attack. We’re moving the ball well.”
In the second half, the Scorpions had 11 more shots, seven of which were on frame, but only one hit the back of the net.
Pedroza scored the fourth and final goal of the game with her second 12 minutes in, receiving the ball from Malia Sonn in midfield, dribbling past the last two defenders and shooting high to the right side.
While it may not show up on the scoresheet, the Scorpions defended impressively.
Freshman defender Lizabeth Corral stood out, playing in the stopper role, always in the right place at the time, showing composure on the ball.
“I think our defense worked together really well and our goalie is really good,” Malia Sonn said. “And our midfield is strong, so they hold off the ball and keep it on the other side.”
The defense did more than just defend. A lot of the team’s offense was created by the left and right outside defenders, freshmen Lulu Betancourt and Ariana Landaverde.
In a game in which Red Rock was clearly the better team, Pedroza singled out what worked offensively.
“Working as a team together, and just getting our passing done, getting it together,” she said.
Looking forward, Surber saw the value of the game in allowing the players to hone their skills and
passing for future games.
The Scorpions will take the field at 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, at home against Santa Cruz Valley High School.