PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Anaheim Bolts suffered a disappointing 14-13 road defeat to the Arizona Storm on Sunday night. The visitors from Southern California fell victim to their own subpar performance in the first quarter as well as to five tallies from opposition forward Mitchell Garcia. Bolts striker Luis Gonzalez, who continued his fine run of form with another quartet of tallies, was denied a late equalizer by a spectacular save from goalkeeper Carlos Barraza.
The nail-biter at Phoenix’s Arizona Sports Complex saw Anaheim Head Coach and indoor soccer legend Bernie Lilavois suit up and play for his side, which was missing several regular starters on the day.
The opening quarter belonged to the Storm, whose fast breaks saw the visitors’ backline exposed on several occasions. After Bolts top scorer Gonzalez had given his team an early lead, the hosts came storming back with four unanswered strikes, Justin Branch, Garcia, David Hague and Adrian Soldana all finding the net. The period’s best goal came from Soldana, who beat goalkeeper Manabu Kaji with a determined right-footed blast from long range.
Trailing 4-1, the visitors displayed a much improved performance in the second quarter, which the two sides split evenly at three goals apiece. After Soldana and Garcia extended the Arizona advantage to five early in the period – Garcia delighting the crowd with a chip over Kaji from deep inside his own half – the Bolts bounced back with a 3-1 run. Lilavois, Zach Bautista and David Adams all found the net for the Orange County-based side, while Hague tallied for the Storm.
Arizona had a golden chance to increase its lead mere moments after Hague’s goal, but Kaji came up with a stunning block to deny what appeared to be an easy tap-in from close range. That opened the door for Adams’ chance, and the defender did well to cut the Bolts halftime deficit to 7-4.
The third quarter was as fiercely contested as the second, with each side finding the net four times for an 11-8 Storm lead. While Hague, Connor Spence, Jason Allin and Soldana tallied for the home side, Anaheim’s Gonzalez struck twice in the period, with his teammates Jhonatan Bravo and Diego Barrera also adding their names to the score sheet.
One of the most memorable moments of the contest came late in the third quarter, Gonzalez’ left-footed blast into the upper ninety getting his side back within three with just over a second left on the clock.
The game’s dramatic closing period saw the Bolts play their best soccer of the night, but it was too little too late, as the 5-3 run saw them fall in heartbreaking fashion, 14-13. While Barrera registered a pair of tallies in the fourth quarter and Adams, Orlando Alcaraz and Gonzalez found the net as well, Arizona’s Garcia made sure his side would earn all three points by tallying three more times before the end of the match.
The day’s most dramatic moment came in the waning seconds, after the visitors had sacrificed their goalkeeper in search of a late equalizer. Lilavois smashed a ball off the glass on the right that sailed across the penalty area and right to the feet of an open Gonzalez at the doorstep. The striker did everything right but saw his first-time hit scraped off the line on a stunning reflex save by netminder Barraza, whose heroics stunned the opposition and sent the Arizona bench into a frenzy.
The Bolts hope to bounce back from the disappointing result in their November 30 clash with hosts Turlock Express. The team’s next home game is on December 9, also against Turlock. Tickets for the 4 p.m. PT clash start at $12 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena box office. For more information, please call the team’s front office at 714-321-9898 or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena at 714-765-8980.