9/20/2012 10:43:00 PM Yavapai 4, Arizona Western 1 Yavapai rallies to down Western in soccer showdown
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Yavapaiís Mathew Payne celebrates with his teammates after scoring the third goal as Yavapai Roughriders beat the Arizona Western Matadors in the final minutes Thursday night in Prescott.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier YCís Milan Popovic, right, wins the ball from Julio Castillo Thursday night in Prescott at the Roughriders passed their biggest test of the early going with a 4-1 win over Arizona Western.
Yavapai College hosted Arizona Western in a battle of nationally ranked soccer teams on September 20, 2012. Photo Editor Les Stukenberg was there and shares some of the highlight images from Yavapai's 4-1 win.
PRESCOTT - Through its first nine games of the 2012 season, the Yavapai College men's soccer team never trailed in 810 minutes of action and pitched an astounding eight shutouts.
However, in a battle against Arizona Western to remain alone atop the Arizona Conference's Division I standings Thursday night at Ken Lindley Field, the Roughriders fell behind 1-0 at halftime.
Despite its unfamiliar position, Yavapai's potent offense rallied with four unanswered goals in the second half, including a flurry of three tallies within four minutes of each other late in the frame, to notch a huge 4-1 victory over the Matadors.
The National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) No. 2-ranked Roughriders improved their league record to an unblemished 10-0, while the No. 6 Matadors dropped to 8-2.
With the win, Yavapai put some distance between itself and Western as the campaign approaches the midway point.
Yavapai attacker Gouedan Halley came off the bench to score two goals, including the equalizer early in the second half and the final goal with 11 minutes left in regulation, to help propel the Riders.
"It was all about who wanted it more," Halley said. "When we got in the dressing room (at halftime), we just talked to each other and said, 'If we want it more, then we have to go out there and get it.' That's what we did, and it paid off."
Roughrider attacker Jonathan Grant was the hero, notching the go-ahead goal on an assist from attacker Alex Harlley in the 75th minute on a rebound off Western keeper Oscar Hernandez's hands.
"I knew that the goalie was bobbling a lot of shots, so I just followed up," Grant said. "I just made my run, it was there and I put it in."
In front 2-1, Yavapai scored two quick insurance goals in the 76th and 79th minutes to put the match on ice.
The Riders relentlessly attacked the Matadors' end in the final 15 minutes, which led to YC freshman attacker Matthew Paine, another non-starter, registering a goal and an assist.
The Roughriders trailed 1-0 in the 24th minute after Matadors defender Angel Figueroa blistered a 25-yard shot off a corner pass from midfielder Jaime Verdin.
However, YC out-shot Western 14-4 in the opening stanza but had several shots trail either wide or over the top of the Matadors' goal.
"You have to give Arizona Western credit - they took advantage of the opportunities that they had," said Yavapai coach Mike Pantalione, who notched with No. 506 with Yavapai. "But you have to give our players extra credit for them being bound and determined to succeed."
Some six minutes into the second half, Halley flicked in the equalizer from about 5 yards out on an assist from attacker Julien Dragomir and Yavapai eventually garnered the momentum it needed.
"Once we got the first one, the game just opened up and they started pressing more," Grant said. "We were just able to break them down."
The Roughriders take a break from conference play this Saturday when they lock horns with NJCAA 20th-ranked Dakota County (Minn.) at the Mountain Valley Amphitheater in Prescott Valley. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.