Mingus Union High School’s girls soccer team took a 2-0 lead over Mohave High School with 20 minutes left, only to allow two goals in the final 13 and a third in overtime to fall 3-2 in the Grand Canyon Region opener at home on Saturday, Dec. 16.
The Marauders [1-4-1, 0-1 Grand Canyon] and Thunderbirds [3-2, 1-1 Grand Canyon] played a relatively even match until the visitors scored their first goal. Then Mingus was on the back foot, trying to see out the game, but a long-distance strike from Mohave senior striker Aliyah Armijo tied it.
“This was one that we needed to win to be in the hunt of stuff, so it’s a little scary going forward,” Marauders head coach Joe Rongo said. “Flagstaff’s always tough, Coconino’s always tough, Prescott’s always tough, so ideally Mohave, Lee Williams, those are easier.”
Curiously, Armijo appeared to receive her second yellow card soon after Marauders sophomore forward Marli Urueta scored the team’s second goal, at the 60th minute mark.
Armijo clearly received her first yellow card 10 minutes into the second half after committing a foul in midfield. Her second yellow would sentence her to becoming a spectator for the remainder of the game, but questioning from the Mingus bench appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Had Armijo been shown red she would not have scored the game-tying goal, nor would she have taken the ball down to the endline and crossed the game-winner into the six-yard box for junior midfielder Jasmine Gonzalez to tap in during the first 10-minute overtime period.
After the game, Rongo and his staff said that they spoke with the referee, but no action was taken. A back-pass to Mingus sophomore goalkeeper Zoey Arwine in the first half was also missed, which would typically result in an indirect free kick inside the penalty box.
Mingus opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the first half through sophomore midfielder Felicia Bueno.
The closest the Marauders came before halftime was when Urueta sent a corner kick to the far post, where sophomore midfielder Jaiden Behlow crashed the ball off the outside of the post.
During the second half, Mingus’ defensive three was caught high up the field on a number of occasions with through balls. Arwine was forced into coming out of the goal to retrieve balls, send them back up field or make a save.
“We lack speed up the middle, so we can get burnt on the through ball,” said Rongo, who switched his defense to a four-player line later in the half.
The Marauders earned a handful of fruitless free kicks in dangerous areas. Finally Urueta scored from 17 yards out.
As she had for most of the game, Urueta received the ball with her back to the goal, took touches and turned, whipping her shot toward the frame. Two minutes after scoring, Urueta missed on a similar chance.
“We’ve got to get better at controlling the middle and stop relying on through balls to wings so much and stop relying on Marli so much,” Rongo said. “Holding the ball in the middle is what we need to do more.”
With 13 minutes left, Gonzalez made it 2-1, scoring from about 25 yards out on another brief counterattack chance. Mohave sophomore forward Ashlyn Armijo toe poked the ball off the upright soon after, and Arwine saved an Aliyah Armijo shot before she eventually scored two minutes later.
“I guess that could be my fault going too defensive and then giving up a goal without trying to use a lot of offense,” Rongo said.
The closest Mingus came in overtime was a free kick from Bueno that bounced over the Thunderbird goalkeeper’s head and wide of goal.