Casa Grande, AZ (Saturday, February 9th, 2013) – Real Salt Lake-Arizona Under 18 defeated Strikers FC 4-2, with Marquette University signee Coco Navarro leading all scorers with his second hat-trick of the season against Strikers FC.
Navarro has been on fire over his past four games scoring 8 total goals. After the game he spoke about the victory saying, “It feels great, because the last time we played against them I got a hat-trick, but we tied. This time we came out with a victory so it’s a great feeling.”
In the previous game between these two teams RSL-AZ jumped out to a quick three goal lead but squandered the lead on the second half. Coaches during the week set the goal for RSL-AZ to start off the way they did last game against Strikers FC and to keep the consistency throughout the game.
But as was the case in the last matchup RSL-AZ learned it’s hard to pull away from Strikers.
“We came into the game knowing it was going to be hard, Navarro said. “We did what the coaches told us and this time we were able to manage the game. We kept the lead the whole game that was the game plan.”
Jose Hernandez opened up the scoring with a shot just outside of the 18 that tailed right. Immediately after the goal Strikers FC started to attack with more urgency and pace. Five minutes later their efforts paid off when they earned a free kick from about 30 yards out. The ball was served into the box and punched out by RSL-AZ GK Ceaser Cobos. The ball unfortunately found the boot of a Strikers player who scored an easy open net goal.
“Same in every game you have your good times and bad times,” said defender Santi Carrillo. “We were playing pretty good but we just had a lack of thinking in a way. We kind have calmed down when we should have stayed up but again Cesar had a great game anyways and that was the important part.”
RSL-AZ turned up the pressure and took back the lead two minutes later when a ball from the wing was played into Andrew Brody who was inside the box. A quick pass to Navarro who then curved the ball around the outstretched arms of the Strikers GK. The rest of the half was forgettable as RSL-AZ missed three golden opportunities in front of net and the lone Strikers FC attempt was blocked by Cobos.
Six minutes into the second half Navaro scored his second goal giving RSL-AZ a 3-1 lead.
Strikers FC answered back when they scored in the 71st minute from a screaming line-drive free kick from 25 yards out that went low left. Not wanting to squander the lead again, RSL-AZ started to commit more players forward. Second half substitute Trevor Hyman from about 40 yards out crossed the ball from the left-wing that took a bounce on the 18. At first it looked like the ball would harmlessly go out of play but Navarro hustled to the ball beating the last defender. The Strikers FC GK came out and with a small touch to the right Navarro scored his third goal into an empty net.
The goal scored in the 85th minute left Strikers FC with little time for a comeback losing, 2-4.
Head Coach Martin Vasquez spoke about Navarro’s performance saying, “For us it’s important for players like him to show that consistency and continue to be a difference maker. We were happy with his performance and overall the team.”
RSL-AZ is now 7 points ahead of second place LA Galaxy, who have played three fewer games.
Next game for RSL-AZ is on Saturday, February 16th when they host San Jose Earthquakes. Game time is 11:00am.
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