Deer Valley girls vault past Verrado to top of region

Deer Valley's Rajanah Reed (#9) scores a goal on a penalty kick against Verrado on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 at Deer Valley High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

At times Wednesday night, Deer Valley girls soccer looked out of his depth against its primary region rival Verrado.

Fortunately for the home team, it was overwhelmed mostly in the opening minutes. The Vipers pressured from the start and freshman Angelica Figueroa scored with ease.

The Skyhawks erased their jitters and scored an equalizer seven minutes later. Then, once a red card on a Verrado player opened the door, Deer Valley took advantage.

In the 69th minute, sophomore Alexia Sanchez lofted a shot from about 30 yards out that smiled over the keeper’s head and right into the roof of the net. The home team held on for a 2-1 victory, the biggest in about nine years for the Deer Valley girls soccer program.

“There was no one really between where I was shooting it from and the goalkeeper so I decided to let it go and leave it in God’s hands.” Sanchez said.

Entering the night ranked No. 16 in 5A, Deer Valley (9-3 overall, 6-2 regular season) figures to make a jump as Verrado (3-3) was at No. 10 coming in. Now, the Skyhawks control their destiny in the Desert West.

Second-year coach John Brooker was quick to remind his team that Wednesday is only the start of region play.

“We have to come out with that same intensity and focus Friday night at Desert Edge. Soccer is a game where you can have the better of play yet suddenly be down 1-0,” Brooker said.

Though the Skyhawks came away with the win, there were stretches the coach will be right to harp on. Deer Valley was reeling early as Verrado showed more aggression and crisper passing.

They settled down and began to counterattack in the eighth minute, primarily sending speedy freshman Rajah Reed out on solo runs. She launched a good shot on goalkeeper Elena Mosquera in the 11th minute that was knocked out and set up a corner.

Mosquera could not control the corner, which bounced loose in the box. Freshman Trinity Villarreal tried to corral it for a shot and was tripped, setting up a penalty shot.

Reed calmly buried it for her 22nd goal of the season and a tie score.

“We didn’t talk well enough at times and we weren’t as aggressive as we should have been on 50/50 balls. But the effort was good,” Brooker said. “Rajanah has been doing that all year. When she gets her hips turned, I don’t think we’ve seen anyone that can keep up with her. Yet we trust her enough to take all of our penalty kicks.”

Deer Valley girls soccer freshman Trinitee Villarreal (#17) is tripped by the Verrado goalkeeper on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 at Deer Valley High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]
Both teams had their chances before halftime, but the two best belonged to Vipers sophomore Ali James in the final ten minutes of the talk.

Neither of her shots were quite breakaways, but both came with no defenders in between her and senior goalkeeper Hayden Wallace. The GCU-bound keeper stopped both to preserve the tie.

“Hayden usually stays pretty calm even in tough situations like that,” Brooker said.

Mosquera matched Wallace in the 54th minute by making a sliding stop on Reed’s breakaway.

But the red card on Yesensia Lawson gave the Deer Valley girls an advantage of one player and allowed the Skyhawks to send one more person forward.

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