This past week our Mesa Community College Thunderbirds took on the powerhouse No. 8 Yavapai Roughriders. The result came out to a painful 2-1 Mesa loss. It was a hard fought game and the score line reflects it. The first half started off a bit slow, though the T-Birds pressed down on the attack. The hard attack lead too many frustrated Roughrider players. In one such play, Manuel Lopez drew the foul inside the goalie box. Benjamin Delgadillo was able to capitalize on this opportunity from the penalty spot in the 36th minute of the game giving the advantage to the home side. The game stayed level at 1-0 with Mesa leading going into the half. However, Yavapai hadn’t given up yet.
To open the second half the Roughriders mounted an attack against goalkeeper Omar Molina, and his defensive back line. Yavapai had several attempts leading up to the 62nd minute of the game where the equalizer come from a header that barely snuck into the net from a corner that had been awarded to Yavapai, this put the game 1-1. Mere moments after the goal, the referee blew the whistle to give a questionable call which favored the visiting team. The defensive captain, Austin Rios, attempted to argue his case to the referee, but this only resulted in his receiving of a yellow card; his third for this season. With the goal line leveled and the clock having winded down to only eleven minutes remaining in the match, the referee once again blew his whistle as what at first glimpse looked to be a Mesa free kick, but instead the kick was to given to the Roughriders.
It was indeed a very questionable call that put Yavapai within goal scoring range. Needless to say the tempers rose from the T-Bird bench due to this call. As Coach Brian Ronan attempted to argue over the validity of the call, the referee simply was not in the mood to hear it. He gave Coach Ronan a yellow card and threatened to eject him. Yavapai’s number 23, John Scearce, was able to use this blessing from the ref to slide one past the net. This make the game at 2-1 in favor of the visiting team. The T-Birds made a valiant effort to fight back for the late equalizer. An all-out push was made as key plays were made putting the home team within range in the last minutes of the game, yet to no avail.
The Roughriders were able to make the last defensive stand against our Mesa team. Afterwards, I had the chance to speak with the Head Coach. He told me that he was content with the effort of the highly ranked Yavapai. He spoke highly of the players saying “We’ve got to keep it up against good teams.” The Thunderbirds are looking to brush this game off their shoulders as they prepare for their next game against the even higher ranked No. 6 Pima College. This young team seems to be reaching for the stars in their national title hopes for this season.