ECNL ARIZONA DAY 2 RECAP: SECOND SHIFT
After falling behind 2-0 in the first half, Del Mar scored two goals in the final 13 minutes to grab a point in the 2-2 draw.
La Roca opened the contest by controlling the majority of the first half, determining the pace of play as the club saw fit. The team applied pressure often to the Del Mar back line, and continually generated scoring chances. After multiple close calls, in the 22nd minute, La Roca finally broke through.
Blake Bybee took a corner from the right side of the pitch and sent his service to the back side of the box. There, Naime Odeh corralled the pass and dribbled to maintain control before rifling a shot into the side-netting to grab a 1-0 lead.
Just 10 minutes later, La Roca doubled its lead. With the ball on the end line, La Roca kicked it back to the top of the six-yard box, where Ryker Cook was waiting. Cook received the pass with his right foot and then quickly took a shot with his left, burying it to increase the Utah squad’s advantage to 2-0.
La Roca took that 2-0 lead into the half, and it seemed like they would be able to cruise to a victory in the second frame. But Del Mar was not ready to give up.
Coming out of the half, the Sharks started applying pressure they weren’t able to sustain in the first stanza. Slowly but surely, Del Mar started to claw its way back into the contest. The team hit multiple posts and forced the La Roca goalkeeper to make saves. But unfortunately, none were able to find the back of the net.
That is, until the 77th minute.
With less than 15 minutes to go, all of Del Mar’s consistent pressure in the second half paid off. With the ball down the left side of the pitch, the Sharks sent a cross into the box. Seeing this pass, Mateo Pacelli split a pair of La Roca defenders, allowing him to receive the cross with a wide-open net in his sights. He knocked it across the goal line, cutting La Roca’s lead to 2-1.
“I saw the ball coming in and I just took a small touch,” Pacelli said. “I just told myself to stay calm, and then I placed it in the back of the net.”
With new life, Del Mar doubled its offensive efforts in search of an equalizer. Meanwhile, the allowed goal seemed to snap La Roca out of a fog, and the prolific offensive play that was shown for most of the first made a reappearance in the second.
The two sides continued to trade chances, but the clock ticked down, giving Del Mar fewer and fewer opportunities to draw even.
In the 87th minute, Del Mar was awarded a throw-in on the right side of the pitch. Aidan Wilson launched the ball into the box, where it bounced off multiple Del Mar Sharks and La Roca players. As La Roca tried to clear the ball, it came to Del Mar’s Gage Goodemote, who took an off-balance shot that popped the ball into the air. Sensing his moment, Brayden Mazepa sprang forward and lept into the air, getting his head on the ball and popping it up and over the goalkeeper to tie the game at 2-2.
“That long throw, I knew it was going to be a scramble and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mazepa said. “When that ball it the back of the net, there’s not another feeling like it.”
Minutes later, the final whistle sounded. The Sharks had a very hard-earned and very-deserved draw, and it’s a credit to the team’s never-give-up mentality throughout the match.
“We’re a really tight-knit group,” Mazepa said. “We know if we stick together, that anything can happen. At a showcase like this, we’re just trying to play our best and stick together and everything else will follow.”
Coming off such an emotional game, Del Mar Sharks will now try to channel that energy and end ECNL Arizona on a high note.
“To come together at the end like that was great,” Pacelli said. “It’s not always about how many players you have, it’s just all about how much effort you put in. You find that energy and then you get that one chance that you put away and then it dominoes from there. Now we’re looking to finish off a great weekend with one more win.”
To view all ECNL Arizona scores and the full schedule, click here.