Cats’ comeback falls short
Durango holds off Fruita for SWL victory
The Fruita Monument High School boys soccer team put together a good effort, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.
The Wildcats fell behind Durango in the first half but rallied for a goal late in the second half to tie the game. But the hopes for overtime were dashed when the Demons found the net in the 78th minute for a 2-1 Southwestern League win on Tuesday at Canyon View Park.
Fruita Monument coach Ethan Johnson was pleased with the effort.
“Not the result we wanted obviously, but we have a lot new guys on the team, a lot of young guys, so I think we played well for the second game of the season,” he said. “We have some stuff to improve on, some simple stuff that will help us do better.”
Playing the three-time defending league champions, Fruita Monument dictated the tempo of the game at times and had a few scoring chances.
The Wildcats (1-1, 0-1 SWL) made some pushes in the second half but never could put a finishing touch on any shots until the 73rd minute.
When senior striker Sam Pflug got loose on the right side for the field, he battled to get some space before popping a high-arching shot just inside the post that dropped in right in front of the net.
The Durango goalie misjudged the shot when he jumped, and the ball glanced off his hands and bounced into the net to tie the game.
“Sam worked it and worked it and put the ball in a dangerous spot for the goalkeeper,” Johnson said.
Durango (3-0, 1-0 SWL) went on the attack after the goal.
Fruita goalkeeper Ryan McCloskey swatted a ball out of the box to thwart one chance but, a few minutes later, the Demons scored the game-winner.
The box was cluttered with players, and Durango’s Eli Fenton secured the ball and popped it into the net.
In the first half, the Wildcats were controlling the ball and pressuring the Demons’ goalkeeper.
The best early scoring chance for Frutia came when Tyler Speer launched a long pass that Marc Halberg tracked down right when it entered the box, but Halberg collided with the goalie, and the ball dribbled away.
A few minutes later, Halberg made a nice pass to Pflug for another chance.
Durango didn’t have a lot of chances in the first half, but it took advantage of one of its few opportunities.
Logan Fullington got the ball in front of the goal and drilled a high shot from about 25 yards out that sailed just over McCloskey’s fingertips for the goal.
Johnson credited senior defender and team captain Stephen Hatch for playing well.
“He really helped us stay together and did an excellent job,” Johnson said.
The game looked to be unfolding just like the Wildcats’ season-opener against Westminster when they fell behind 1-0 before scoring two second-half goals to get the win.
Hatch said it was good to see the team keep battling when they got behind.
“As a team, getting back that goal was inspiring for us,” he said “It showed us that we have heart.”
Even though the loss was disappointing, Hatch said playing tough against the 2016 SWL champs — the same team they contended with for a league title —will help them as the season goes forward.
“I think it will light a fire under us to do better and work on our weaknesses,” he said.