Tie goes to ‘Cats

Fruita ends SWL season unbeaten after tie with Indians

Fruita Monument’s Noah Nelson and Montrose’s Saul Perez leap for and miss a header Tuesday during the teams’ 0-0 tie at Canyon View Park. Both teams now will prepare for the playoffs.



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Fruita Monument’s Noah Nelson and Montrose’s Saul Perez leap for and miss a header Tuesday during the teams’ 0-0 tie at Canyon View Park. Both teams now will prepare for the playoffs.

Nobody won, and nobody lost, and that meant two things for the top two teams in Southwestern League boys soccer Tuesday:

■ Montrose played much better than it did in the first meeting with Fruita Monument, a game the Wildcats won 3-0 in Montrose on Sept. 12 to gain the upper hand in the league over the defending champion Indians.

■ And Fruita Monument finished its league-championship-winning campaign unbeaten, albeit with one tie, withstanding the determined effort it knew it would get from the Indians.

Little else was gained from Tuesday’s scoreless tie between Montrose and Fruita at Canyon View Park. Both left with their health and reasons to feel good about what’s next: the CHSAA playoffs. Fruita (12-2-1, 9-0-1) will earn a spot in the state field in Class 5A, and Montrose (9-4-2, 7-1-2) will get a state berth in Class 4A.

“I would rather win,” Montrose coach Jim Pavlich said of Tuesday’s outcome, “but that was a hard-fought match. Both teams had their chances to win. I have no complaints.

“I wish Fruita the best in the playoffs. They deserved to win the league.”

The Wildcats were denied perfection in the league, but Fruita coach Dan McKee said he’ll take unbeaten. He knew his team faced a difficult challenge Tuesday.

“We ended their five-year run for the SWL title,” McKee said, “so I knew they were going to be gunning for us.

“Give them credit. They were hustling to the ball. ... The first time we played them, we controlled the midfield, and today it was back and forth.”

McKee said Pavlich always makes good adjustments from the first encounter against a team to the second, and Tuesday was no different.

Pavlich said his players know Fruita’s players from playing club soccer in the summers, and they’re aware of how dangerous the Wildcats’ forwards are. In the first meeting of the high school season, though, he said his defense gave the Wildcats too much respect and played off them too much. Giving them space was a costly mistake.

Tuesday, according to Pavlich, “We didn’t back off.”

Both teams had good opportunities to score, but shots over the crossbar and wide of the posts were the common end result as Fruita outshot Montrose 18-14.

Both goalkeepers, the Indians’ Keegan Sullinger and the Wildcats’ Dominic Gaty, made six saves to earn shutouts. Each goalie benefitted at least once from teammates deflecting shots away when the keeper was out of the net.

Pavlich reiterated his team came to Canyon View Park to earn a victory, but what he wanted to see regardless of the final outcome was better play from his team. He got that.

McKee also preferred victory, but a tie wasn’t a loss, and Fruita still enters the postseason with the SWL title and 12 wins.

“A 12-win season is something we haven’t done for years,” he added.

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