Fruita Monument hopes new coach will lead soccer turnaround
Image is everything.
After finishing 2-27-1 the past two seasons, the Fruita Monument High School girls soccer team wants to change the culture.
“We want to bring a winning environment,” first-year Wildcats coach Eric Anderson said. “They’ve struggled to get a .500 record or even a couple of (wins) under their belt, so we want to change that.
“We ordered some new jerseys, new warm-ups and it’ll be more disciplined.”
Anderson, an all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference soccer player at Mesa State College in 2007, is taking on his first head coaching job at the high school level. Anderson was an assistant last spring at Mountain Crest High School in Utah.
Anderson, only three years removed from playing at Mesa, still likes to lace up his cleats and run with the players.
“We set a bunch of open gym days, and we’d go and kick it around with them,” Anderson said. “We showed them we can play the game and understand the game.”
Heading into this weekend’s first game against Chaparral at the Air Academy Invite, the Wildcats have confidence that this season will be different from the past two.
Anderson said the strength of the team will be in the backfield.
“We have speed and skill in the back,” Anderson said. “I think teams will have trouble getting it around us.”
Defensively, the Wildcats are led by their only returning first-team all-Southwestern League player, Maddie Golike.
“She’s huge in our defense,” Anderson said. “She’s probably the one that talks the most, she’s our center defender and she’s a leader out there.”
Another key part of the defense is sophomore goalie Kylie Goetz. A starter last season as a freshman, Goetz had 89 saves and was voted second-team all-league.
One year older and wiser, Goetz is excited for the upcoming season.
“Last year I learned I can’t be afraid of anything,” Goetz said. “Just face everything, and go out and play.”
With the defense in place, Fruita Monument has to be more productive offensively. The Wildcats scored four goals all of last season.
Ashley Forrest, who scored two of those four goals, returns for the Wildcats.
“We want to put the best 11 out there to get the ball in the back of the net,” Anderson said. “We don’t have much height on the team, so we’ll be playing a lot of the balls on the ground and not going up high much.”
The Tigers have high expectations for this season coming off an 11-5 finish last year. Grand Junction returns its top goal scorers in Ashley Wallace (12 goals) and Stephanie Drake (9).
Grand Junction has to replace four-year starter Shari Yurick in goal.
The Tigers play this weekend at Coronado and have a rematch against Columbine on Saturday, the team that ended their season in the state playoffs last season.
The Warriors move in a new direction under new head coach Jacob Pingel. An assistant last season, Pingel takes over a group that lost six starters from last season, but return first-team all-SWL midfielder Arianna Herrera.
The Warriors also return sophomore Lynzee Dwyer, who had nine goals as a freshman.
Central starts its season March 19 against Battle Mountain.
The Bulldogs made big strides as a program by getting to host a first-round playoff game last spring. Palisade lost to Evergreen 3-1.
Palisade returns its leading scorer, Flannery Davis, who finished with 20 goals last season.
The Bulldogs also return sophomores Courtney Clark and Natalie Combs.
The Bulldogs have to replace graduated goalie Amelia Davis.
Palisade’s first game is Thursday at Coal Ridge.