Bulldogs hit stride in soccer
For a while, the Palisade High School girls soccer team couldn’t find a way to score.
The Bulldogs lost three players to injury and subsequently went three games without scoring.
Out of necessity, coach Luann Ehlers was forced to change her offense, bringing up a player from the midfield to the forward position.
Since that time, the Bulldogs (6-6, 6-5 Western Slope League) have scored 10 goals.
They’ve also given up none, winning three straight games in the process.
The latest shutout came Monday against Eagle Valley as the Bulldogs scored three first-half goals en route to a 4-0 victory at the Peach Bowl.
“I think they were tired of not scoring,” Palisade coach Luann Ehlers said after successive shutouts to Montrose, Battle Mountain and Glenwood Springs.
Monday’s victory put Palisade one game ahead of Delta in the win column. The two teams face each other on Thursday at the Peach Bowl. A victory by Palisade would secure the second spot in the WSL West Division behind Glenwood Springs and give the Bulldogs the league’s third playoff berth.
After the loss to Glenwood Springs, Ehlers switched from a 4-4-2 offense to a 4-3-3.
Breaking it out against Moffat County last week, Palisade won 3-0.
“In practice it was working well (but) we were still learning it,” Bulldogs forward Mackenzie Clark said
They’ve learned quickly.
Clark got the scoring started for Palisade on Monday, taking a pass from Flannery Davis and scoring from 15 yards out on the right side in the 15th minute.
After several near misses and hit-the-post shots, it was the second goal of the season for a relieved Clark.
“(The new offense) helps. We’re floating from the midfield to the forwards better,” Clark said.
In addition, said Clark, “We’re getting more used to where people make their runs,” familiarity helping the team play more fluidly.
Nine minutes later, Davis, a freshman, scored the first of her two goals before halftime, giving her six in the last three games.
“I think it helps having three forwards,” Ehlers said. “The only way it works is with Flannery in the middle.”
While the offense has picked up, the one constant for Palisade this season has been its defense. Ehlers said her four defenders have given the offense the chance to make plays.
The Palisade defense allowed only three shots on goal by Eagle Valley.
Palisade plays Moffat County in a nonleague game on Wednesday before facing Delta on Thursday. Both games are at 4 p.m. at the Peach Bowl.
Should the Bulldogs defeat Delta, they would earn their first playoff berth in 11 years.
So far, success has taken only a little tweak in the offense, based out of necessity.