PHOENIX RISING FC

Andre Rawls, Phoenix Rising extend unbeaten runs with shutout home win

Oct 9, 2021, 11:05 PM | Updated: 11:13 pm
Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Andre Rawls in PRFC's 1-0 win over Oakland Roots SC on Oct. 9, 2021 at...
Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Andre Rawls in PRFC's 1-0 win over Oakland Roots SC on Oct. 9, 2021 at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Ariz. (Ashley Orellana Photo)
(Ashley Orellana Photo)

CHANDLER — Phoenix Rising FC extended two unbeaten streaks in the 1-0 win over Oakland Roots SC on Saturday night at Wild Horse Pass.

The victory brings PRFC’s home record on the 2021 USL Championship campaign to 11W-3D-0L and goalkeeper Andre Rawls’ record to 14W-4D-0L when starting in net with a goal differential of +24.

Rawls’ clean sheet also marks back-to-back shutouts, his sixth on the year and Phoenix Rising’s 10th of the season.

“It’s been a team effort the whole way through,” Rawls said postgame. “I’m fortunate to have those stats, goalkeepers love our numbers. Very humble, very grateful to have the six clean sheets and the wins and the draws.

“But at the end of the day, that comes down to the team. They’re the ones that are busting their butts for 90 minutes day-in, day-out. Bailing me out when I screw up. I bail them out when they screw up. It’s that little chemistry that goes back and forth. I’m really happy with it but I can’t take all the credit. It’s the guys in front of me as well.”

For the second time in as many games, the PRFC goalkeeper came up with two huge saves in the second half to preserve both the lead and clean sheet.

“The first one, I didn’t see the ball so that was cool. … Little bit of a prayer in there,” Rawls said. “Fortunate to get the touch.

“I think for the first one, the big thing was even though it went past (Joe Farrell) and blinded me, he was in a really good spot to cover most of the goal for me. He kinda forced the guy to shoot it wide and have to curl it around, which gave me the time to make the save.”

“The best thing about Andre is that he’s the same every day,” manager Rick Schantz said. “He’s one of these goalkeepers that is just so consistent in training.

“In the games, you know exactly what you’re going to get from a guy like this. Usually goalkeepers are a bit strange, but Rawlsy is the most normal human being I’ve ever worked with that’s played goalkeeper. I like him a lot, and we’re really fortunate to have him here.”

Phoenix could have — and probably should have — blown the doors wide open in the match having outshot Oakland 25-14 (8-4 on target) and winning the corner battle 7-2. Possession was evenly split at the final whistle, but most of Roots’ possession came as Rising chose to go more defensive — including PRFC not allowing its first shot on target until the 76th minute.

The only goal of the game came early on in the 11th minute of the first half. PRFC forward Darren Mattocks got on the end of an Aodhan Quinn set piece and poked home the winner for his fifth on the campaign and the second consecutive match-winner.

Schantz deployed a full-strength starting XI which featured Tate Schmitt starting at left back after being sent off in the first half in each of his last two appearances. The LB was well-behaved on the night and completed the 90 minutes without picking up a yellow.

Having already clinched the Pacific Division title, Rising’s attention will focus on closing out the regular season as Western Conference champions. El Paso Locomotive FC — who have a maximum of 70 points possible — is the closest team to Phoenix, who can still claim up to 74 points.

However, the only team standing in the way of PRFC and a second Supporters’ Shield in three seasons is Tampa Bay Rowdies, who have a maximum of 76 points possible with five matches remaining. And due to Tampa Bay beating Phoenix earlier this season, Rowdies has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Rising.

UP NEXT

Phoenix Rising will travel to Irvine for a midweek match away to Pacific Division rival Orange County SC on Wednesday.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Catch the audio stream on ArizonaSports.com and the Arizona Sports app.

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Andre Rawls, Phoenix Rising extend unbeaten runs with shutout home win