PHOENIX RISING FC

Ben Lundt’s 5-save clean sheet lifts Phoenix Rising FC over New Mexico

Apr 16, 2022, 11:58 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2022, 12:13 am
Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Ben Lundt walks off the pitch after a 1-0, five-save clean sheet win o...
Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Ben Lundt walks off the pitch after a 1-0, five-save clean sheet win over New Mexico United in a USL Championship match at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Ariz., on April 16, 2022. (Ashley Orellana Photo)
(Ashley Orellana Photo)

After a quick start to the 2022 USL Championship season was followed by a sputter, Phoenix Rising FC has caught fire.

With a 1-0 victory over New Mexico United at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler on Saturday night, PRFC has now won four consecutive matches in all competitions and three straight in league play.

That donut for NMU was a direct result of Ben Ludnt’s five-save clean sheet that saw multiple acrobatic saves, the last of which was a stoppage-time penalty for what would’ve been an equalizer at the death.

“I felt like I was pretty busy, but I just kept telling myself that I needed to make one more save,” Lundt told reporters postgame. “I had a save with my foot and I thought my night was done. Then the penalty came. With a little bit of luck, the ball falls our way and we win the game.”

“It was a little bit 50-50,” he added. “If he goes the other way, it’s 1-1. Our guys defensively did a really good job. I am just happy I could help the team today.”

Lundt’s performance was so impressive that even Phoenix’s lone goal on the night came as a direct result of one of the aforementioned acrobatic saves.

After what was perhaps the German’s best stop of the match, a Kevon Lambert clearance resulted in an exquisite ball in from Marcus Epps that was cooly finished by Greg Hurst for one of the best 20-second sequences you may ever see.

“We got the one goal on the transition but after that I thought we played a bit too negative,” Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz told reporters postgame. “A few too many square passes in my opinion. I told them at halftime that I didn’t care what the possession stats ended up being. I was more worried about not letting them get in behind us.

“For 91 minutes we were fantastic defensively. Then we gave up a penalty. Sometimes your big man gets called upon to make a save. The four or five saves Ben had tonight were big time. If that’s not a Team of the Week performance, I don’t know what is.”

Schantz deployed the same starting XI for the second consecutive match, as forward Santi Moar and center back James Musa continue to nurse lower-body injuries. However, left back Babou Njie returned and made an appearance off the bench after missing the last two games due injury.

Statistically, Rising finished with 13 shots (three on target) and two corners compared to NMU’s 17 tries at goal (five on frame) and six corners. Defensively, Phoenix led in interceptions (11-8), aerial duels won (56.7%), tackles (11-10) and clearances (33-6).

STOPPAGE TIME

– With a win following a 1-0 halftime lead, PRFC improves to 45W-3D-0L in its last 48 matches in USL Championship play when ahead after 45 minutes dating back to Oct. 10, 2018.

– Saturday night’s match was also the first out of six in all competitions between Phoenix and New Mexico to feature fewer than four goals, as the previous five meetings combined for 26 goals.

UP NEXT

Phoenix Rising hosts New Mexico United once again on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

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