Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls soccer team procrastinated in its attacking efforts until nearly the end of its 0-0 tie with visiting River Valley High School on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
After regulation, the Dust Devils twisted into the living, breathing definition of a student-athlete, asking to leave it at a tie to start the four-hour, nearly 250-mile journey back to Mohave Valley to study for this week’s finals.
All in all, the Scorpions [3-0-1] were disappointed to not come away with a win.
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“When they see a team that is challenging, sometimes we defend too much, and we don’t put pressure on them. In the last five, probably 10 minutes we pushed a little bit more up and then we had more attacking in there. But sometimes we naturally retract back to defend,” Scorpions head coach Juan Carlos Aguilar said. “There’s two different teams; either we’re attacking or we’re defending, there’s no in-between.”
Red Rock had more of the possession throughout the game. It managed to get just three of five shots on target, most coming from senior midfielder Marissa Pedroza.
Most of its attacks consisted of Pedroza, senior midfielder Alicia Pallares or sophomore forward Amari Sonn carrying the ball themselves up the field, dribbling past Dust Devil defenders and shooting. Few teammates moved up the field to join the attack or provide targets to hit with crosses.
“We were playing really disconnected, and our coach told us that during halftime and we all knew it because we usually play together and create more,” Pallares said. “The connection between the defense and the forwards, it’s hard to make it.”
The Scorpions’ defense was rarely tested, but River Valley did overcome it with speed on quick attacks after turnovers in midfield.
Dust Devil freshman striker Hailie Pagett forced Red Rock sophomore goalkeeper Carolina Lopez-Villegas into a save on one counterattack. For the most part, Lopez-Villegas was able to come out to retrieve passes that were too strong, as did River Valley senior goalkeeper Mikayla Dillon-Wilkie.
Scorpions sophomore center back Lizbeth Corral was the rock of the defense, stopping the ball whenever it got close and helping her teammates when needed.
In the second half, the Dust Devils’ best chance came with 25 and a half minutes left. Sophomore forward Alon-dra Castro got behind the Scorpion defense and centered the ball low with Lopez-Villegas and company unable to clear it, but sophomore forward Mallory Moss could not reach it in time either.
Pallares shot right at Dillon-Wilkie from 11 yards out in the 61st minute, who then parried Pedroza’s long-distance effort in the 73rd.
“I feel like in the beginning of the game we weren’t playing our game, not passing. Once the second half came we got settled down and we started passing more and we got more shots on goal but less shots on our goal,” Corral said.
That final stretch of applied attacking featured Red Rock sophomore left back Ariana Parra-Landaverde moving up the left sideline and getting the ball into the box. Sonn twice fired wide before forcing Dillon-Wilkie into a diving save with three and a half minutes remaining.
Red Rock finished with 10 total shots and seven on goal.
“We definitely wanted to win but we didn’t lose either. I feel like if we would’ve done the overtime we probably would’ve pulled together and probably won, but it is what it is,” Pallares said.
The team’s next game, the first of three before 3A Region 1 play begins, comes in 2018, at 4 p.m. Jan. 4, at Santa Cruz Valley High School, whom it beat 10-1 on Dec. 11.