BEND IT LIKE BENTON
Well-placed corner kick lifts Wildcats past GJ
Sarah Benton’s corner kicks don’t always go where she wants them to, but this one did.
This time it went into the net.
Holding a 4-3 lead in the second half, the Fruita Monument junior whipped a corner kick from the left side, bending it right into the box cluttered with players, and then into the net.
The Wildcats went on to a hard-fought 6-3 Southwestern League girls soccer win over Grand Junction on Thursday at Walker Field.
“Typically, those corner kicks on that side usually go out because they curve so much,” Benton said with a laugh. “But every once in a while, I’ve got them to go in.”
Fruita Monument (7-3-1, 5-1-1 SWL) added another goal in the 70th minute, two minutes after the Benton goal, but it was a tight game for much of the contest.
Fruita Monument took a 3-0 lead after 26 minutes on two goals by Courtney Coffey and another by Shaylee Holt.
Grand Junction responded with two goals three minutes apart by Tia Wright to cut the lead to 3-2 after 30 minutes.
It was the same scenario as the previous time the two teams met when the Wildcats took an early lead and the Tigers responded with two goals. But in that first meeting, the Wildcats dominated the rest of the game and won 8-2.
Fruita Monument coach Jeff Shuldener said the game was a battle and much closer than the score indicated.
“When we pulled away this time they were relentless and kept coming back at us,” he said.
“It’s a testament to our team that they didn’t allow Grand Junction to come back and win that game, as hard as the Tigers were playing.”
“I was really impressed with both teams. It was playoff-quality soccer tonight.”
Benton upped the lead to 4-2 at the half on a goal off an assist from Coffey.
Grand Junction (5-5-2, 2-3-1 SWL) got right back into the game when Taylor Hein scored when she knocked in a goal off a long free kick that popped loose in the box.
Fruita Monument demonstrated good ball movement and possession for much of the second half, but Grand Junction kept up the pressure.
“We knew they were going to come out strong in the second half,” Benton said. “Our coach just told us to play our game. We came out a little bit rough, but then we scored and got back into our rhythm. As long as we play as a team, we can accomplish anything.”
Shuldener was happy with how his team played and distributed the ball. On the Holt goal in the first half, the coach called the assist from Baseley McClaskey “gorgeous.”
The Wildcats’ final goal started with a free kick by Jamie Madson from about 40 yards out. Tigers’ goalkeeper Guadalupe Torres got her hands on the shot, but the ball deflected off the crossbar and back into the box, where Samantha Neuville knocked in the sixth goal.
Grand Junction coach Joe Graham was pleased with his team’s effort and determination.
“That was our focus, to not give up and have a strong second half,” he said. “I know it’s kind of a cliché to say, but I don’t think some of the bounces went our way tonight.”
He added, “Our team defense looked a lot better tonight. For the most part the idea was right when we were distributing the ball. It wasn’t just a forced pass, there was an idea behind it, which is what we have to do.”