It was not the start that Rick Schantz and Phoenix Rising FC wanted Saturday night at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex.
In to town came a Reno 1868 FC squad sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference table and had only scored six goals in five matches played so far this season.
But a hat trick from Dane Kelly, two of those goals in the first six minutes of the match, completely changed the complexion of Saturday’s 4-0 Reno victory over Phoenix Rising in front of 6,067 fans.
Kelly’s first goal came inside the second minute, when he took the ball up the middle field undefended and drilled a shot the the low right corner past Josh Cohen for a 1-0 Reno lead.
Four minutes later, Kelly got his brace when midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips made a bad pass in the midfield, and the Reno attack was on. Forward Brian Brown crossed a ball from the right to Kelly, who was waiting and drilled it again past Cohen for the 2-0 lead.
It wasn’t until the eighth minute when Phoenix Rising got it first chance, a free kick from Chris Cortez that was saved by Matt Bersano.
Two minutes later, Chris Wehan tried to up Reno’s lead, but Cohen came out to meet his shot and came up with a good save.
In the 12th minute, Phoenix Rising had another chance in the box when Victor Vasquez crossed the ball where Wright-Phillips was waiting, but he was defended as was Alessandro Riggi, who’s shot was knocked out for a corner.
Riggi had another chance five minutes later, when a ball fell right at his feet inside the six-yard box, but skied it over the net.
In the 39th minute, Riggi got a great cross from Chris Cortez and drilled a shot from 25 yards out, but Bersano was up to the task in making a big save.
Kelly picked up the hat trick in the 66th minute after a long pass over the top started the Reno attack, and Lindo Mfeka flicked the ball over to Kelly, who put it in the upper right corner off the post and in for Reno’s 3-0 lead.
In the 77th minute, Wehan made it 4-0 Reno when another turnover by Phoenix Rising led to Mefka getting the ball in the offensive third and feeding the ball to Wehan, slotted it past Cohen.