Originally published Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 11:15p.m.

PRESCOTT VALLEY — Yavapai men’s soccer forward Paul Fulop made it look easy like 1-2-3 as the freshman recorded a hat-trick in the team’s 5-0 rout of Glendale on Thursday at Mountain Valley Park.

The big question going into Thursday’s match was whether the Roughriders would be able to bounce back from their first loss of the season, which was to Mesa on Sept. 14. Well, that question was quickly answered as the Roughriders ran circles around Glendale en route to an ACCAC win that was highlighted by three first-half goals from Fulop.

“It was a long five days [since the loss to Mesa]. This match was a quick turnaround compared to the Mesa game on Saturday night,” said Yavapai head coach Mike Pantalione. “But the guys responded well, they were well organized and they handled the Glendale defense very well.”

If there was one thing to take away from Fulop’s hat-trick, it’s that he consistently finds himself in the right place at the right time. All three of his goals came off a cross or a centered pass, with each being calmly put away to give the Roughriders a 3-0 lead before the half.

While Fulop spearheaded Yavapai’s offense, the team dominated in all facets of the game as the defense, led by sophomore Gabriel Claudio, freshman Isaac Flores and sophomore Isaiah Strong, limited the Gauchos to a mere three shots the entire game. In 11 games (including scrimmages), the Roughriders have only allowed five goals.

The second half saw more of the same from the Roughriders, holding possession for at least 85% of the time. The team’s possession-based style has worked wonders for them so far and when it comes to wearing opponents down, it’s something Pantalione would rather use instead of urging his players to constantly floor the gas pedal for a full 90 minutes.

“I don’t even know if we ever had our foot on the gas at all this game,” Pantalione said. “We had to be methodical about negotiating that ball towards the goal because [Glendale] had 11 players behind the ball. So we had to pick our spots and at times, go in through the back door and that was effective this evening.”

Freshman defender Pedro Mondragon was the engine in Yavapai’s ball movement, acting as a link between the defense and offense in order to push the ball up field. Although, it did come at a cost as he seemed to receive the brunt of Glendale’s hard challenges. All in all, Mondragon was just glad to be back in the win column.

“I was just working hard, trying to win the balls and I guess I would get in their way,” Mondragon said. “It felt good to get a win like that, especially after not having such a good performance against Mesa. But now I feel like we’re back in the groove and we’re good to go.”

Brandon Ficsher came in off the bench and picked up where Fulop left off, netting two goals to add the icing to Yavapai’s cake. The first one came when Enrique Zamora placed a nice through ball for Ficsher, who sprinted down the right wing and slid it past the Glendale keeper.

The second one was made possible due to a great effort by Jalen Atkinson, who fought off three Gauchos to make a pass to Gavin Tinsley who sat atop the 18-yard box. Tinsley then tried to curl a shot around the keeper, which was blocked but then Ficsher was there for the put-back.

UP NEXT

After opening conference play on the right foot, Yavapai (8-1, 1-0 ACCAC) will look to begin a new winning streak when it kicks off a three-game road swing against Phoenix College on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email avaldez@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.

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Yavapai freshman defender Pedro Mondragon jostles for the ball during the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai freshman forward Manuel Quiroz controls the ball in the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai sophomore defender Gabriel Claudio sends a ball down the field in the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai freshman forward Paul Fulop (17) makes a challenge on the ball in the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai freshman defender Pedro Mondragon (bottom) is tended to by his teammates after he was taken down by a hard tackle in the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai sophomore midfielder Jalen Atkinson (11) makes a pass in the Roughriders’ 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai freshman defender Pedro Mondragon (4) carves through the defense during the team’s 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)

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Yavapai sophomore defender Isaiah Strong dribbles the ball out of the back during the team’s 5-0 win over Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley. (Aaron Valdez/Courier)