Mesa, AZ - After grabbing an early lead, Arizona Christian needed a late goal in regulation and golden goal in overtime to beat Benedictine-Mesa 3-2 on Thursday night. Senior Roberto Valenzuela scored the game winner while Freshman Trey Ratkovich converted the game tying goal.
Seeing his first action in an Arizona Christian uniform, Junior goalkeeper Chris Garcia was tested early as he face two shots that required a save less than two minutes apart.
Just under 10 minutes in the contest against Benedictine-Mesa- making their program debut, Junior Luis Bobadilla threaded the needle with a nice pass to send Junior Anthony Archuleta in on goal. Archuleta scored his team high third goal of the season to give ACU a quick 1-0 edge.
The next 13 minutes saw just one shot- a strike wide from Valenzuela.
But the Redhawks (0-1) converted two of their next three shots into goals with the second one coming about seven minutes left in the opening 45 minutes to grab a 2-1 advantage.
Half number two started with both teams coming out firing away as the Firestorm (2-1) attempted the first four shots and BenMesa taking the next four- all before the second half was 12 minutes old. Freshman Diego Robles just missed scoring the equalizer as he bounced a shot off the post.
On the strength of holding the Redhawks to just two shots for the rest of the game, ACU had numerous chances but could not find the back of the net. Sophomore Andrew Archuleta, Sophomore Marcello Meale, and Freshman Miguel Vasquez all hit shots requiring saves.
With time running out, ACU finally capitalized on their opportunities when Robles connected on a through ball for Ratvokich who buried the ball into the net from the right side. Ratkovich's first collegiate goal could not have come at a better time.
After the Redhawks sent a shot wide, the match headed to the first extra session.
ACU dominated the overtime period as Senior Daniel Chavez and Senior Ryan Scarpulla fired off shots that had to be saved including one by the Redhawk defense. Anthony Archuleta nailed the post and Robles went wide with his follow up shot. Finally, Valenzuela took a feed from the older Archuleta and blasted a shot off the body of the Benedictine goalkeeper that carried into the goal for the golden game winner.
Head Coach Andrew Belleman commented, "The game was not how we planned it or what we expected, Benedictine is a very good team with fast powerful players. We struggled to adjust in the first half, but credit to our guys for figuring it out and fighting together in the second half. They showed a gold toughness and togetherness in the second half and OT that I have been waiting to see from them. It was a very good program win tonight!"
Next week, Arizona Christian will head out to California for the first time this season as they meet up with Providence Christian and Soka. The Firestorm will start the trip with a match against the Sea Beggars at Villa Parke in Pasadena on Thursday at 7:00 pm.