As the goalkeeper came out to cut down the angle, Sedona Red Rock High School girls soccer sophomore forward Amari Sonn slotted the ball into the far corner to ice the game at 3-1 with seven minutes remaining.
Victory over the NFL YET College Prep Acad-emy was in hand, extending the No. 13-ranked Scorpions’ undefeated start to its power-point schedule to six games, but in the end it was a frustrating game. Sonn’s goal came on her ninth shot of the game. The team had 10 second-half shots on goal, 17 total shots, but only managed to perforate the net once in the second half.
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“Very frustrated. We tended to play their game. Every time we play a team that is not good with the ball, we just do the same,” Red Rock head coach Juan Carlos Aguilar said. “That was the struggle today. We had shots on goal, but we were aiming to the goalkeeper instead to put it away.”
Although the visiting NFL Yet Eagles [0-7] came out to play in the second half, the Scorpions were hardly tested in defense while the midfield and attack created numerous opportunities. Red Rock senior midfielders Alicia Pallares and Marissa Pedroza were the conductors in the middle of the field, dribbling around defenders and combining with teammates for quick 1-2 passes to advance upfield.
In the 43rd minute, Sonn forced a save from Eagles junior goalkeeper Maryann Hernandez before shooting high and wide on the ensuing corner kick. Pedroza slowed up on a 3-on-1 breakaway, and the defense recovered before a threat could be formulated.
Between those two chances, the NFL Yet team cut its deficit 2-1. A long ball bounced over the head of Scorpions sophomore centerback Lizbeth Corral, the last defender. Junior Braeden Feldtkeller, playing goalkeeper in the second half, saved the initial shot, but the ball trickled behind for Eagles senior midfielder Jacqueline Ibarra to tap into an empty net.
From there Red Rock [5-0-1] was not challenged, at least defensively.
Pallares had a one-time shot at the near post saved in the 51st minute. Two minutes after that, Pallares turned and fired right at Hernandez after receiving a nicely-weighted, lifted through ball from Pedroza.
Sonn, playing on the right side of the attacking trio, was blocked again two minutes after that, then shot wide again 120 seconds later. Sonn returned to her original left-hand position, and the fruitless onslaught continued.
She struck the outside of the post and saw another shot go straight at Hernandez, then Pedroza’s response skipped wide. Three more tame shots padded Hernandez’s saves statistics before Sonn’s insurance goal.
“It was really frustrating because I had so many opportunities, and I kicked them all to the goalie,” Sonn said. “I think it was an off day.”
Defense has been the mainstay all season whereas offense has been the final piece of the puzzle yet to fall into place. The team has given up four goals during this unbeaten run while amassing 26 goals, a deceiving figure since 16 were scored in two games against the same opponent.
“That’s one thing that they have to work on,” Aguilar said. “Instead of ripping it, they have to put it in the sides, find a place to put it. I think some more of that experience is involved in that.
“...We just need to practice more finishing. It’s individual with set pieces and that stuff ... After [Wednesday’s game] I have seven days to address that, and after that it’s one after another.”
Red Rock controlled the first half from the opening whistle. Nine minutes in, Pedroza opened the scoring. After a simple takeaway in the Eagles’ defensive half of the field, Pedroza dribbled down the right hand side and finished low to Hernandez’s right.
The Scorpions quickly dispossessed the Eagles throughout the half and dribbled around defenders. Using quick, short passes, they cut through the defense and had plenty of time to pick their heads up to pick out teammates.
The best move of the half came in the 18th minute. Red Rock sophomore left back Arianna Parra-Landaverde received the ball from Corral and turned up field. Parra-Landaverde played the ball to Sonn down the left and continued her run toward the middle.
Sonn then pulled the ball back to the edge of the 18-yard box, which Parra-Landaverde latched on to with a left-footed strike that looped just over the crossbar.
Pallares made it 2-0 with 13 minutes left in the half. Pedroza’s initial shot was kept out by a standing, two-legged save, and after the Eagles defense twice failed to clear the ball, Pallares collected and scored.
The team took on Wickenburg High School on Wednesday, Jan. 10, winning 5-2.