Mesa High's boys soccer team learned a two-goal lead isn't always a safe lead. The 2013 Jackrabbits saw that up close and personal Friday night when they traveled to Yuma to play San Luis. There a 2-0 lead at haltime didn't stand as they fell 3-2, giving up a penalty kick in the final 15 seconds that spelled a 3-2 defeat.
Mesa retained what proved to be valuable knowledge on Saturday afternoon. The Jackrabbits rallied twice from two-goal deficits in the second half and came away 4-3 winners over Mesa city rival Mounntain View in the first round of the Coyote Classic Tournament at Campo Verde High.
Mesa (1-2) snatched victory with three goals in a seven-minute span just past the midpoint of the second half. Midflielder Brian Perea scored two goals and assisted on another to lead the comeback. The win followed a short turnaround from Friday night's loss to San Luis. Mesa didn't return home until 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. It was back on the field 12 hours later warming up to play again.
“That was a great win,” Mesa coach T.J. Hagen said. “I wasn't sure what our energy level would be, but we played hard. They saw what can happen to a two-goal lead.”
Mesa trailed 1-0 after the first half as Mountain View (0-3) capitalized on a one of its few first-half chances with a short counter attack. Forward Andrew Leeseberg found the far corner of the net from the right side about 18 yards out in the eighth minute. The rest of the half most chances went Mesa's way with Mountain View keeper Jacob Garner collecting six or seven saves.
Mountain View opened the second half with Leeseberg scoring again three minutes in on a breakaway to put the Toros up 2-0. At that point Mountain View coach Kevin Burke cautioned his team the 2-0 lead was not insurmountable and not to be complacent. And two minutes later, Perea fed Manny Venzor from the angle left 15 yards out to make it 2-1.
Mesa continued to dominate the ball at its end in he second half and Garner continued to make a number of solid to great saves. Meanwhile a 30-yard blast straight away from Mountain View's Luis Bustillos ziipped past Mesa keeper Matt Winkler to give the Toros back their two-goal edge in he 51st minute. When Mountain View scoredSaturday it scored quickly and surprisingly. It might have left the Toros with a false sense of security.
Whatever is was, It was all Mesa High from there. Mesa sophomore Cory Crawford lofted a shot from 35 yards that arched over Garner to make it 3-2 in the 61st minute. Three minutes later Perea, who had pelted Garner all day with shots, fired another from close range, This one caromed away from Garner and trickled into the net to tie the match.
Another minute later, Garner denied Perea with another fine save. The shots kept coming and Perea was able to tuck one in the right corner of the net in the 68th minute for what would be the game winner.
Mountain View spent the first 10 minutes or so after the gameworking on conditioning. Likely due to the warning Burke issued them about taking their lead for granted that seemed not to be heeded.
“Matt did a nice job for us,” Hagen said of his keeper. “(Garner) definitely kept them ahead. He did a fantastic job. I was proud of our guys for continuing to work. Ultimately we got some shots to go. With this win we'll see what we can do the rest of the tournament.”
In other first-round games in the boys tournament, Perry topped Campo Verde, 1-0; Basha and Cactus Shadows played to a 2-2 tie and Liberty edged Dobson,1-0..
The girls tournament, a double-round robin among Campo Verde, Casa Grande and Basha, saw Basha beat Casa Grande, 7-0. Campo Verde played Basha in the final game of the day.