IRVINE, Calif. – Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-17/18 and U-15/16 were each able to take only a single point from their matchups against Pateadores at Irvine Great Park on Saturday, with Damian German and Aristotle Zarris providing the goals in the draws.
“We weren’t as sharp as we should have been,” said goalkeeper Christian Herrera. “But games like these are going to happen and it was good how we kept fighting.”
Pateadores 1-1 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-17/18
The Claret-and-Cobalt took the field on Saturday morning looking to improve on last year’s result, when Pateadores upset both the 18s and 16s in California.
Early on, Jose Hernandez showed solid chemistry with the returning Brooks Lennon, but neither player was able to find the back of the net in the match.
In the 15th minute, Pateadores opened up the scoring on a set piece, knocking down a corner at the far post for a tap-in goal to take a 1-0 lead.
In the final half hour of the first half, RSL-AZ set-up chance after chance, but continually knocked their chances over the crossbar, leaving the 1-0 deficit in place at half time.
Early in the second half, Pateadores nearly doubled their lead on a cross from the end line, but the RSL-AZ defense blocked the effort safely away.
Edgar Duran helped get RSL-AZ on the board in the 67th minute when his penetrating pass to Damian German got in behind the defense, allowing German to round the keeper and coolly score into the open goal for his fourth goal in two games.
In the final moments of the match, German was brought down in the Pateadores box for what looked to be a penalty, but the referee instead gave German his second yellow card of the match, meaning he’ll miss RSL-AZ’s game on Sunday against Strikers FC.
Pateadores 2-2 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16
In the second half of Saturday’s double-header, RSL-AZ U-15/16 looked to turn around their fortunes after a disappointing opening day loss to the San Diego Surf at Grande Sports World.
Pateadores immediately put those hopes in doubt when they were able to put in the rebound off a Conor Orton save in the 3rd minute to take a 1-0 lead.
Devastated by the early goal, RSL-AZ had trouble creating much of anything in terms of attack through the remainder of the half.
In the final minute of the first, Pateadores won a penalty, finishing into the bottom right corner of goal to take a 2-0 lead into half time.
“We didn’t start off too well,” said Aristotle Zarris. “But we came back and we worked together as a team and we gave it a good fight.”
Ten minutes into the second half, Kris Fourcand was brought down in the box but the referee decided against giving a penalty kick. Four minutes later, Erik “Gallo” Virgen was brought down but yet again there was no call.
In the 58th minute, Aristotle Zarris took matters into his own hands. On a free kick from 19 yards out, Zarris knocked the ball over the wall and into the net to cut the Pateadores lead down to one.
With eight minutes left to play, Zarris found the ball on the right wing, where he then cut past a defender and into the box and rifled a shot through the diving keeper’s hands to level the game at two goals apiece.
On the final kick of the match, “Gallo” found space at the left corner of the 18 yard box, shooting with the inside of his foot to the far post, but the Pateadores keeper made the save to preserve the draw as the referee whistled the match to an end.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy U-15/16 and U-17/18 face Strikers FC in the second half of their Southern California road trip on Sunday, September 14. The 18s kick off at 10:00 a.m. followed by the 16s at 12:30 p.m. on Santa Ana College Field 1.
“I think we need to start off strong,” said Zarris. “It’s not going to be an easy game and we’ve got to play as a team and keep working hard.”