Senior's 4 goals help Indians win 5th straight SWL titleHead herey
MONTROSE — Montrose High School senior Nick Hansen stood confidently about 30 yards out after watching his free kick curl in for a goal. It took his teammates almost 10 seconds to collapse around him. He made the smallest of fist pumps before jogging back to midfield for the kickoff.
It looked like he’d been there before. He had. The Indians’ leading goal scorer was going to be there three more times before Tuesday’s Southwestern League boys soccer showdown with Fruita Monument was through.
And that put the Indians in another place they’ve been before. Hansen’s four goals helped Montrose to a 4-2 victory that sealed the fifth straight Southwestern League championship for the Indians (9-5-1, 8-1-1 SWL).
“It feels awesome to beat a quality team like Fruita and add another conference title to the banner,” Hansen said, motioning to the banner that hangs at the high school. “It was tight this year.”
Hansen’s offensive outburst capped one of the closest battles for the SWL title in the five-year span. Montrose and Fruita came into the game tied in the league standings, with Fruita’s only league loss coming from the Indians.
“It’s been an up and down season,” Montrose coach Jim Pavlich said. “This is the first team since I’ve coached here that I feel is peaking at the right time. They’ve been coming on strong late. This game was huge in terms of points for us.”
Pavlich said his ultimate goal is to achieve a top-six seed for the state playoff bracket. As the SWL champion, Montrose receives an automatic bid into the 4A playoffs. A selection committee seeds the teams based on record, league and strength of schedule.
“We’ve had a really tough schedule, and we really needed to win league to show what kind of team we are,” Pavlich said.
As the top 5A finisher in the SWL, Fruita (8-6-1, 7-2-1) will receive an automatic bid into the 5A playoffs. Wildcats coach Dan McKee is hoping to get his team healthy for a playoff run, and he hopes his squad sent a message Tuesday. Fruita matched Montrose goal for goal, forcing a 2-2 tie, until Hansen put them away late in the second half.
“Yeah, we made them sweat a little bit there,” McKee said. “They know where we’re at for next year. We’re graduating three seniors, and we want to break that streak next year. My hat’s off to them, they played a great game.
“We knew we could battle back, and we had this goal all year, we just came up one game short.”