Two goals in the final 11 minutes lifted the Sedona Red Rock High School boys soccer team to a 4-3 win over Veritas Preparatory Academy on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at John Ordean Stadium.
Scorpions sophomore forward Michael Lagorio secured the win from the penalty spot with seven seconds remaining, and the team improved to 2-0 in 3A Region 1 play and 4-3 overall.
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“I saw a different team today. A different team that, compared to the last [game], put more spirit, was more relaxed. Relaxed meaning they shared the ball some more,” Scorpions head coach Daniel Valenzuela said. “We created more chances and we played against a fantastic team. Hats off to them; they came out and really had a tight competition against us.”
A game rife with scoring chances from the start inspired the belief it would end in tragedy for one side and ectasy for the other.
Veritas Prep’s temporary elation, brought on when Falcons sophomore goalkeeper Benjamin Power saved Scorpions sophomore midfielder Clark Borjon’s 70th minute penalty kick, was quickly vanquished. Borjon put the rebound back into the six-yard box for Lagorio to smash home.
At the last gasp, Lagorio’s long ball from the halfway line found Borjon, who cut back middle and again drew a penalty. As silence filled the stadium, Lagorio’s spot kick low to Power’s right went untouched, punctuating the finale with an exclamation point.
“Basically, I just had to remember how I do it in practice, like no one’s watching me, just me and the goalie,” Lagorio said. “I think that we stayed in it, we didn’t give up. Every time they scored we came back and we scored another one.”
Red Rock, who had given up 14 goals in its prior two games, led 2-1 at halftime behind a pair of Borjon goals. The team was without three regular starters who received red cards in the 8-6 win over Wickenburg High School on Jan. 17: Senior defender Julian Travaglia, senior midfielder Justin Wassell and sophomore midfielder Ben Philo.
Nonetheless the Scorpions, who played with five defenders, still controlled much of the first half and created the lion’s share of scoring opportunities; Borjon the main culprit offensively. After testing Power early on, Borjon drove into the box and scored. The goal was waved off for an offside during his quick one-two exchange with Lagorio. Lagorio had another shot narrowly miss soon after.
In the 28th minute, Borjon created what likely would have been the goal of the season. A free kick near midfield was lofted to Borjon, without a defender within three yards of him, in the penalty box. He calmly controlled with his chest, kicked the ball up and unleashed a searing bicycle kick, forcing a quality reaction save from Power.
Just a minute later Veritas Prep leveled the score through sophomore striker Jason Nunez, who slammed home a loose ball near the goal. Thirty seconds after that, Borjon struck again, this time scoring from just outside the box with the outside of his foot.
Momentum shifted in the second half. Falcons sophomore midfielder Marshall Briggs had two chances before a handball in the penalty box against Red Rock was not called.
Eventually Briggs scored. The ball was curled from the left high and to the far post, where Scorpions sophomore goalkeeper Lucas Hernandez initially punched the ball out, but Briggs put home the rebound.
“They wrong-footed us a couple times and they caught us off guard a little bit, so that’s the transition side of it, and we’re going to have to work more on that,” Valenzuela said.
Nunez’s 25-yard strike tipped off Hernandez’s hands seven minutes after that to put the Scorpions behind 3-2.
Red Rock plays again at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at Paradise Honors High School. Wednesday, Jan. 24, marks senior day for the Scorpions, who will take on Anthem Preparatory Academy at 5 p.m.