Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls soccer team’s undefeated streak came to an end when it dropped its 3A Region 1 opener to No. 4-ranked Veritas Preparatory Academy 3-1 at home on Wednesday, Jan. 17.
The Scorpions [6-1-1, 0-1 3A Region 1], ranked No. 15 as of press time, had trouble generating any true scoring threats while the Falcons [8-1, 1-0] played most of the game in its offensive half of the field.
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“[They’re] very organized and experienced, they didn’t sweat .... I think overall we held them good with what we have,” Red Rock head coach Juan Carlos Aguilar said. “I’m limited with what I can do .... I’m frustrated because after seeing them play six games against teams that are very strong too, they showed up to the games. But today there was no team out there.”
Veritas Prep got on the board in the opening minutes of the game as a loose ball bounced around near the goal before making its way in, with Falcons sophomore striker Kylie Carwitz the last to touch.
Most of the Falcons’ best opportunities came through the feet of junior striker Kylie Hall. Red Rock sophomore goalkeeper Carolina Lopez-Villegas saved two shots from Hall, who soon after played a good ball into the danger area from a short-played corner kick, the ball skidding wide of the net.
In the 29th minute of the first half, Hall got around Lopez-Villegas, only for Scorpions sophomore left back Ariana Parra-Landaverde to clear the ball away. In the final minute, Hall curled a corner kick straight toward goal to force another Lopez-Villegas save.
Red Rock defended nearly the entire game, with its midfielders dropping deep to help the back line. When the hosts did get possession, the connectivity between the defense, midfield and forwards was lacking. Scorpions sophomore striker Amari Sonn never had a clear goal-scoring chance, the best coming on a long-distance effort in the 54th minute.
“There’s no connection between those things — the midfielders and the defense and the midfielders and the offense. We just want to kick the ball forward and see if a miracle happens. And we can’t do that,” Aguilar said.
All in all, he added, it was more of a mental limitation rather than a physical one — knowing the team was facing off with a top-ranked team played a factor in its timidity.
“Because they’re capable of doing it: We have faster players, we have players that can play the ball and all that stuff, but today we didn’t do that,” Aguilar said.
Another goal in the opening minutes of the second half doubled Veritas Prep’s lead. After a throw in near the penalty box on the left-hand side, the ball made its way to the endline before being whipped high to the far post.
Falcons freshman striker Bella Gulbranson’s initial shot was blocked by a Red Rock defender, but Gulbranson stabbed home the rebound. Veritas Prep continued its attack, and could have scored a few more. Lopez-Villegas was called into action on a number of occasions, once saving Hill’s strong low-angle, left-footed shot destined for the roof of the net.
Gulbranson’s 61st minute header sailed over the crossbar of the gaping goalmouth, again Hall the sender of a quality ball. Finally Hall finished a simple turn and finished into the upper corner with 13 minutes remaining to round out the scoring.
Red Rock travels to Paradise Honors High School for a nonregional game, starting at 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19. The team will celebrate senior day on Wednesday, Jan. 24, when it hosts No. 2-ranked Anthem Preparatory Academy.