Crisis averted: Phoenix Rising FC finds pastor's wedding ring

Posted at 4:33 PM, Mar 27, 2017

As a former goalkeeper, Nate Benner simply did what his instincts told him to do.

In the first half of Phoenix Rising FC’s opener at its brand-new facility in Scottsdale, a player from the visiting Toronto FC team kicked a ball into the stands of the Bandidos supporters section, where Benner was standing.

The ball came right at Benner, who put his hands up to deflect the ball away. But as he did so, something else flew away, too.

“In the process of deflecting it, somehow my ring went flying,” said Benner, a former goalie at Davis College in New York and current associate pastor at New City Church in Phoenix.

The shot in question occurs at the 33:27 mark of the video below.

“In my head I kind of thought, ‘Whoa,’ like suddenly I felt naked at that point. And about 20 seconds later or so, I looked down and my ring was gone.”

Benner told his wife and other nearby supporters what had happened, and they immediately began helping Benner search for the ring, to no avail.

“Some people around us heard the story, so they started looking with us,” he said. “We didn’t know if it went back onto the field. We didn’t know if it went into the stands. We had no idea.”

SEE ALSO: Photos from Phoenix Rising FC's first match in Scottsdale

Benner told security what had happened, but no one was able to locate the ring during the match. After the game, guest relations gave him the team’s contact info and said he would be able to return to the stadium the following week to search for the ring.

But Benner would soon learn that search wouldn’t be necessary, as the ring was located by Phoenix Rising’s ProEm security team and given to one of the team’s salespeople after the match.

On Monday morning, Benner was informed via Twitter that the ring had been located.

On Monday afternoon, Benner and a member of Phoenix Rising’s staff arranged to meet at Cartel Coffee Lab in downtown Phoenix, where the ring was reunited with its owner.

Before they learned the ring had been found, Benner said his wife handled the situation better than some might.

“She knows my love for soccer, and she did say, ‘This would be a fitting place for you to leave it,’” he said. “She wasn’t flipping out, although she is obviously really excited and overjoyed that I have it.”

Benner isn’t an Arizona native but has spent more time in Phoenix than any other city. He’s a lifelong soccer fan and said his love for Phoenix Rising has grown as a result of the events of the last several days.

“I love their commitment to the fans. That’s obvious, as it’s being seen right now and experiencing that firsthand,” he said. “I followed from afar but I never got to go to a game (until Saturday), so once they rebranded and became Phoenix Rising, it just seemed like everything fit in with what they’re doing. Their presence that they’ve brought even to the community already and the commitment to bringing soccer (to the Valley) was obvious.”

And the next time a ball is kicked his way, Benner said he’ll make sure the ball is the only thing that goes flying.

“I might put (my ring) around my neck with a necklace -- or just wear my goalkeeping gloves to the game,” he said with a laugh.