A second-half duel of jersey No. 11s provided spectators an exciting 40 minutes of soccer at Sedona Red Rock High School’s John Ordean Memorial Stadium on Jan. 7.
Although outdone by his counterpart on the scoresheet, freshman Ben Philo and the Scorpions used a hot offense on a cold and cloudy day to secure a 7-5 win in a shootout over visiting Paradise Honors High School.
A 2-1 halftime advantage quickly turned into a 3-3 tie, but the Scorpions reacted well, scoring twice in the space of two minutes.
“I think our spirit got a little down, but once we knew that we could boss them around in midfield we picked our heads up and started playing how we knew we could,” said Philo, who finished with a hat trick.
Both teams felt each other out at the outset until 20 minutes in, when Scorpions sophomore striker Evan Favorite gained the endline and cut the ball back for sophomore midfielder Clark Diaz. Diaz slammed home from near the penalty spot, and the chances began to rain in for both sides.
Junior midfielder Julian Travaglia doubled the lead six minutes later.
After Paradise Honors goalkeeper Richard Persons could not control a Philo shot from inside the area, Travaglia tapped into a mostly empty net. Coach Reuben Philo commended Travaglia, who “was guts and glory the entire game” in midfield, a new position for him.
“I think that we passed the ball well through the width to create chances down the wing and cross them in to finish,” Ben Philo said. “We were trying to break them down so we could have easy goals, not trying
miraculous shots from way out.”
Just one minute beforehand, the Panthers could have leveled the score on the counter, but a low cross from speedy forward John Marendes to midfielder Rhett Livingston at the back post was pushed just wide.
Most of the Panthers’ best chances, and two of their goals, came on the counterattack.
“Our closing of the field today is what caught us off guard, we didn’t transition as quickly as we could have to get back into a defensive mind,” Reuben Philo said. “That was a good effort on midfield’s behalf on making the effort forward, but our effort back was just not enough.”
With three minutes left, the Panthers pulled one back, this time from a set piece, which would be the catalyst for their other three goals.
A corner kick sailed to the far post, but was not cleared, and was tucked into the low corner by striker Chandler Douglas. One minute later they could have tied it again, but another chance for Douglas at the far post went begging.
Ben Philo opened his scoring account two minutes into the second half on a simple through ball that released him with no one but Persons in the way, and he slotted the ball in low to Persons’ right.
Ben Philo’s opposite number, Panther midfielder Ryan Benson, took the reins of the offense for the rest of the game, scoring four goals.
After finishing his first counterattack, he sent a left-footed free kick from just outside the 18-yard box into the right corner to tie the game at three.
Red Rock senior centerback Daniel Bouvin took advantage of a rebound three minutes later to give the Scorpions the advantage they would never let go of.
During the following three minutes the Scorpions peppered the Panther net; they totaled seven shots in the half and 12 altogether.
Benson capitalized on another free kick, again from just outside the penalty box, placing the ball perfectly into the left corner just one minute later.
“I think today’s set pieces were placed very well by the other team. With shots of that quality it’s tough for us to defend,” Reuben Philo said.
Both Reuben Philo and fellow coach Johan Lagercrantz applauded the defensive four’s performance overall. They also noted that they played a more defensive 4-4-2 formation rather than their typical 4-3-3.
None of the five goals conceded came from the Panthers breaking them down, but did, however, come from a lack of communication.
“We were lacking communication in the back, as well as we did have some balls go over through our backfield ... that’s what killed us right there,” senior left back Joel Diaz said.
Ben Philo took advantage of a sleepy Panther defense to grab his second, breaking free down the right and again finishing to Persons’ shortside. He combined with Clark Diaz in midfield to complete his hat trick on a counterattack, pounding the ball high into the far side corner.
With seven minutes left, Favorite met a well-placed Travaglia free kick inside the penalty area, sending a header into the corner to make it seven.
Five minutes from the final whistle, Benson finished off his quartet by capping off a counterattack with a left-footed drive from distance.
Red Rock traveled to Tonopah Valley High School on Jan. 10, but results were unavailable at press time. It takes the field again for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Jan. 14, at home against Page High School.