Who’da thunk it: Another overtime soccer match for Mesa Red Mountain. Friday night was the eighth occurrence this winter, which is a running joke around the Mountain Lions, but this time it wasn’t so funny.
Avondale Westview — one of the better teams again this season in 5A Division II — came across the Valley and came back to pull off a 2-1 victory in overtime.
Red Mountain felt better about itself following an 11-0 victory against Phoenix Alhambra earlier in the week. The Mountain Lions (7-4-5) had been struggling to convert offensively, a season-long bugaboo.
Instead, it was Westview sophomore Jackie Kim who brought the Knights back, pounding in a pair of goals.
“Same story, different day,” Mountain Lions coach Andy Barber said. “We’ve had a terrible time scoring. They’re competitive kids, but we can’t seem to put teams away.”
Red Mountain played without junior forward/midfielder and last year’s region player of the year Megan Striedel because of a knee injury. Nor did it help when two more regulars on defense left Friday’s match with minor injuries.
Barber found no consolation in using health as a crutch for missed chances or the early-season scoring struggles. Eight times thus far the Lions scored one goal or fewer.
|IN THE NET: Red Mountain’s Jaymie Padilla kicks the ball past Westview goalie Lindsay Lloyd with 5:35 left to play in the first half of Friday’s match at Red Mountain.|
Following a few saves from goalie Delaney Riley and an Alyssa Freeman shot off the crossbar, things appeared on the up-and-up. The Lions were aggressive at midfield and forced a Westview turnover, which led to Jaymie Padilla’s goal off Kelli Aros’ initial shot for a 1-0 lead with 5:30 remaining in the first half.
But Westview (4-3) hustled and tracked down the ball along Red Mountain’s end line and a centering pass led to some confusion in front of Riley. Kim knocked in a rebound to tie the score 15 minutes into the second half. In the first overtime session, a scrum in front of Riley (14 saves) left Kim with another easy rebound with three minutes to play for the eventual winning goal.
Aros and Taylor Gonzalez had opportunities in the second overtime, most notably a Gonzalez header that rolled toward the front corner, but it was stopped short.
There’s hope Striedel will return in time for region play, but Barber said it’s unfair to label her as a some kind of savior.
“We have stretches where we play well, and I don’t know what happens, but we lose our focus,” he said. “We’re going to need to become a better group, and do it at the same time.”