It took a little more than a half - which included some much needed injury time - for Anthony Grillo to make his presence felt with the Nevada Wonders soccer team.
The Reed High graduate scored literally with two seconds left in injury time in the first half to force a 1-1 tie at halftime and the Wonders used the momentum to pick up their first win of the year in a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Gauchos on Saturday at Carson High.
"It's great to be back," said Grillo, who redshirted last season, his freshman year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Before his return to Cal Poly, Grillo has come back to play with the Wonders once again, making his debut with the team this year on Saturday.
"They're a great group of guys," said Grillo about his teammates. "I've heard we've been kind struggling."
The Wonders had lost their first five games of the year in the Premiere Development League. But the Wonders also got off to a slow start last year before coming on at the end of the season. It also didn't help that four of the Wonders' first five games this year were on the road.
"They're a solid group of guys," Grillo said. "I've been impressed so far. Things look very promising. "Ben (Tallon) our captain said it best. This is our first one but not our last."
Grillo's shot from 25 yards out bounced off the left post and trickled into the net. "I thought it was going to hit the post and come out," Grillo said.
The Wonders increased the pressure in the last seven minutes of the half. Wayne Maden sent a beautiful pass from near midfield right in front of the goal where Tallon was there and it appeared that he was going to send his header into the net but the Gauchos' goalie just got a hand on it.
Moments later Milton Turner sent a shot that appeared to be heading in, but the Gauchos' goalie made a diving save. But Grillo scored moments later.
Tallon got free on a breakaway to begin the second half, but he was stopped by the goalie. The Gauchos' goalie, though, was later called for a foul in the goal box and Tallon converted the penalty kick to make it 2-1. Rob Smith then perfectly timed his break on a pass without going offsides and scored on a breakaway to make it 3-1.
The Wonders started strong when Tallon sent a pass to Daniel Perez, who was able to beat his defender and launch a shot that appeared to be heading into the upper right corner of the net. But the shot bounced off the bottom of the crossbar. Marvin Sorto then sent a crossing ball from the right sideline that was just punched out by the goalie.
But until the flurry at the end of the half, the Wonders were relatively quiet for the rest of the half.
"We played well as a team after being a little bit shaky at the beginning," Wonders coach Paul Aigbogun said. "It was a little bit of a slow start. But I thought once we got ourselves into the game we did a lot better."
The Gauchos took a 1-0 lead when Wonders' goalie Travis Sharp was unable to clear a loose ball and Oscar Espinoza was able to score.
Others taking shots for the Wonders included Tallon, Maden and Lance Pemental. Sharp made four saves. The Wonders will go back on the road to face BYU on Friday before returning to play at home on June 10 and 11, hosting Modesto at 7 p.m. on both nights at Carson High.
"I think all the games are tough," Aigbogun said. "I don't think there are any easy teams in the league."