The T-Birds looked to continue their momentum offensively against Arizona Western College at John D. Riggs Stadium on Aug. 25. The game got underway later than expected after heavy rain and winds forced the Lady T-Birds game to be delayed pushing back the start time of the Men’s game. Once the soccer ball was finally kicked off, it was clear that the T-Birds offense wasn’t going to be able to get off to the same fast start as they did against South Mountain. For most of the first half, Arizona Western, a team loaded with sophomores and veteran experience generated a ton of pressure with hard tackling quickly grabbing the ball back and killing any momentum the T-Birds offense had when they got it deep into their offensive zone.
As a result, the majority of the action played in the first 45 minutes took place in the Matadors attacking zone, and Mesa was forced to play defensive most of the half. Coach Barmettler equated that to his team being out of position after Arizona Western had spread them out, and as a result Mesa was playing 9 on eleven. Mesa did have a few really good opportunities in the first half, but the T-Birds simply couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. “We out shot them 7 to 6, so it was pretty even,” Coach Barmettler said. “I think we should have scored a header that went right to the keeper that they didn’t mark us, and if he just sticks it in on either side than its in.” Mesa also had several unlucky breaks that unfortunately didn’t go there way.
“We had the one on one early which we kicked right off the keeper, and the shot off the goal post was just unlucky it was a good shot.” “We had our chances.” Arizona Western midfielder Cesar Moreno scored the Matadors first goal in the 34th minute and the score was 1-0. Midfielder Fabian Munoz collected the assist. That score would hold up till the end of the half. The T-Birds came out more aggressive on offense in the 2nd half generating opportunities at the net, but they couldn’t capitalize till it was too late. “I just asked them if anybody believed we couldn’t play with these guys, and they all believed that we could, and they came out and played a lot better.”
Arizona Western forward Pedro Garcia scored what ended up being the deciding goal in the 56th minute to make it 2-0. Midfielder Henry Ramirez was credited with the assist. At that point in the game, the 2-0 lead looked insurmountable with the way Mesa’s offense and Arizona Western’s defense had played to that point. However, Mesa didn’t quit, continued their hard second half play, and almost rallied to tie the game late. Mesa would score their first goal of the contest in the 82nd minute when Mesa forward/striker Andres Elizalde knocked in goal from the left side of the net to make things interesting at 2-1. Midfielder Obedd Fuentes was given the assist.
Elizalde acknowledged after the game that his team has a lot to work on. “We got to be more physical and we just have to score the opportunities that we have,” Elizalde said. “It’s looking good.”
The goal seemed to energize the T-Birds, and they would have several really good scoring opportunities in the final eight minutes, but in the end it was too little too late for Mesa. Even though he wished his team would have tied up the game, Coach Barmettler was happy to see his team score the goal, and push right till the end. “That goal really got us going, it was fun to see the young guys push.” After dropping their home opener, the T-Birds record moves to 1-1-0 overall, and 1-1-0 in the ACCAC. Coach Barmettler acknowledges that his team is young, and Mesa is dealing with several key injuries. “We’ve got to get better,” he said.
Arizona Western played their first official game of the season after their opening contest was postponed. The Matadors record sits at 1-0-0 overall, and 1-0-0 in the ACCAC. Mesa’s next contest will take place at John D. Riggs Stadium against Yavapai College, a team on top of the standings at 3-0 overall, and 2-0 in the conference. “Yavapai is a high scoring team,” Coach Barmettler said. “They can score from about everywhere so were going to have defend pretty well.”