Ash Fork escapes GC<br>with 2nd-half soccer surge

GCNP — The season for Grand Canyon High School’s soccer team will end this week with a pair of road trips.

While the Phantoms will try to put the season behind them and look ahead to being competitive in basketball, another Class 1A school just might make the state playoffs.

Ash Fork, under first-year coach Sonny Martin, is vying for the Mountain Region’s third playoff spot behind Chino Valley and Camp Verde. The Spartans helped their cause with a 5-3 victory over the Phantoms on Friday afternoon.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Grand Canyon coach Ken Olsen said. “We’re just not getting the bounces.”

Grand Canyon took a 1-0 lead on a John Hender goal, who took advantage of Spartans misplaying the ball on defense. But Ash Fork’s Luis Morales came right back to tie the game on a header into the net.

Ash Fork went up 2-1 at the 29:45 mark of the first half on a Rene Ayala goal from about 20 feet out. Grand Canyon’s Ryan Maloney responded to knot the score, 2-2.

The Phantoms then lost goalie Joe Wilkerson after he received a red card for coming out of the box with his arms raised. That’s a violation and Carlos Padilla went in his spot the remainder of the game.

“That’s just a call they made that’s in the book,” Olsen said of the red card. “He was only out (of the box) by two feet. We had the play the rest of the game with 10 players.”

Grand Canyon took a 3-2 lead on a header into the net by Adam Isbell. The Spartan tied the game with a goal amid Phantom defensive confusion just before the intermission.

In the second half, Ash Fork got a pair of goals to take the win. Ayala and Morales had goals.

With the victory, Ash Fork swept Grand Canyon in soccer for the first time in its short history. The Spartans have played well this year, also posting wins over Sedona and Pinon and a tie against mighty Chino Valley.

Grand Canyon headed to Chino Valley on Saturday and had a long bus ride home after a 13-1 setback.

“They look really, really good,” Olsen said. “They haven’t even lost a game yet. It was a killing.”

Mitchell Walker scored the lone goal for the Phantoms.

There was no junior-varsity action this past week. Olsen said the team has a smaller roster with injuries and suspensions and can’t support the JV team.

This week, Grand Canyon travels to Sedona Red Rock on Friday in a situation where the Phantoms could play spoiler for the Scorpions. The Phantoms then end the season Saturday at Camp Verde.

GCHS now sports records of 1-7 in the region, 4-14 overall.

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