GCNP — Grand Canyon’s Ryan Maloney scored on a head ball into the net in the first overtime to give the Phantoms a 2-1 victory over Pinon in the home and conference opener.
Grand Canyon’s Carlos Padilla takes the ball down on offense.
The Phantoms had taken a 1-0 lead only a few minutes into the game when Maloney scored with an assist from Mitchell Walker. Pinon tied it up with only a few minutes left in regulation on a shot by Shane Yazzie.
In the first OT, both teams had shots on goal. With about two minutes left in the extra period, Kristin Olsen passed to Walker who then set up the header by Maloney.
“We lost on a really sweet shot,” Pinon coach Rick Klein said. “I don’t mind losing those kinds of games. There was no way to defense that.”
Phantoms coach Ken Olsen said the team should have played better.
“We just were not playing our game,” Olsen said. “We were playing to their level. I feel overall, we’re a better team.”
Grand Canyon had beaten Pinon, 6-1, in the Round Valley Tournament.
The Phantoms took second place in their pool at the tournament. The Phantoms opened the tourney with a 6-4 win over Holbrook. John Hender had four goals and Walker had two in the victory.
Later the same day, the team dropped a 4-2 decision to Round Valley. Walker and Maloney had goals.
Grand Canyon then fell to Snowflake, 6-0, on Sept. 2. The team finished with the 6-1 win over Pinon. Hender and Maloney each had two goals while Sean Keil and John Gabaldon scored one apiece.
After the region victory over Pinon Friday, the Phantoms headed to Ash Fork for another early conference matchup. The Spartans won their first-ever soccer game with a 2-1 victory over Grand Canyon.
“Ash Fork has really improved,” Olsen said. “They have a really good coach ... and they’re playing as a team now. I was impressed with their ball skills.”
Grand Canyon took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nathaniel Bitsui, who was assisted by Maloney. But from there, the Phantoms couldn’t find the net.
Ash Fork tied the game, 1-1, early in the second half on a penalty kick. The winning goal for the Spartans came with about 10 minutes remaining, but it came in unfortunate fashion for Grand Canyon.
While trying to clear the ball on defense, a Phantom player accidentally kicked it into the wrong net.
Ash Fork tied mighty Chino Valley, 1-1, earlier in the week, another indication of the Spartans’ improvement.
Although Olsen was impressed with Ash Fork’s improvement on the field, he wasn’t impressed with conduct in the stands.
“I was disappointed with their fans,” Olsen said. “During the game, every time one of their players knocked into one of our girls, they cheered. To me, that’s not sportsmanship.”
In JV action Friday, Grand Canyon beat Pinon, 4-1, on a shootout.
The Phantoms (1-1, 3-3) will host Sedona Red Rock Friday and Camp Verde Saturday. Varsity games begin at 1 p.m.