Super Tuesday in Grand Valley
Wildcatsslip pastTigers in OT
For nearly 86 minutes in Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Grand Junction, the Fruita Monument soccer team struggled converting corner kicks.
Through two halves of regulation and the first half of overtime, the Wildcats were constantly stifled by a tight Grand Junction set piece defense that had little problem getting in the way of Fruita’s potential scoring chances.
But senior Wyatt Allen, playing on the far side of the field from the kick, made the last one count. After several Fruita players missed chances on the kick by Matt Emerson, Allen got to it and struck it past Junction goalie Hill Bonin.
“My teammate, Peter Martinez, had a bad hit on it and I just cleaned it up and finished the shot,” Allen said. “We had several (corner kick) opportunities and didn’t put them in, but that last one counted and ended up winning the game.”
The kick wasn’t the cleanest the Wildcats put up all night, but many of the earlier kicks were knocked away by Grand Junction defender Ryan Gibb.
Gibb played a key role in a back line that kept Fruita from finding scoring chances in the second half.
Fruita got ahead early in the game using through balls to break through the Junction defense.
The Tigers, though, got back in position to keep the Wildcats from getting too many open looks.
In the 38th minute, Martinez took advantage of a Grand Junction misstep to take the lead.
As Martinez approached the box with the ball, Bonin came toward him, but collided with a defender, which left the goal open. Unlike an earlier open look that Martinez missed, he found the net.
In the second half, Junction took over possession of the game and limited the through balls Fruita used earlier. The Tigers improved their passing but had several shots miss either high or wide.
The Tigers scored in the 44th minute when former goalie Nik Sulley hit a penalty kick from several feet behind the box.
“He’s played goalie before so he knows how to strike the ball very well,” said Grand Junction coach Stephen Latta. “I make sure that he takes those free kicks from a distance.”
Grand Junction took three overtime shots, Fruita two.
Both goalies performed well. Bonin finished with seven saves and Fruita Monument goalie Scott Mende had 10.
Mende consistently came up with big saves, including several dives during regulation.
“The whole team did well on defense and we had a couple of lousy breaks where he saved us,” Allen said.
The win was Fruita’s (2-5, 1-1 SWL) first in Southwestern League play. The Tigers (0-3-2, 0-1 SWL) are still seeking their first win of the season.