Central’s Conor Beach gets start in Fruita’s victory
Fruita Monument High School had to win Tuesday night’s Southwestern League boys soccer game against Central to keep a potential Class 5A playoff berth within reach.
The Wildcats (5-6, 4-2 SWL), though, saw the bigger picture in their 4-2 win at Walker Field.
On Central’s senior night, the Warriors (6-5, 3-3 SWL) had goalie Conor Beach start despite blood clots that ended his high school career a few weeks ago.
In order to start him and safely get him off the field, Fruita kicked the opening ball out of bounds, allowing Central coach Doug Beach to substitute Antonio Tarin for his son after only three seconds.
“It’s probably the last game I’ll be on the field for,” Conor said. “It’s great just to have that one more chance. It’s senior day and to be able just play a little bit, even if it’s not much, just to have another memory of me playing soccer, it’s great.”
Once the substitution was made, the crowd gave Conor a standing ovation as he made his way back to the sideline.
“Watching him come off was one of the hardest things I’ve had to see as a coach because I knew he would never be on the pitch again, ” Doug said.
Fruita coach Dan McKee had no reservations about the start of the game.
“I suffer from blood clots too, so since Conor was diagnosed I’ve actually given Coach Beach some suggestions as far as who to see in town,” he said.
“I’ll do anything for these guys. Our team, their team, Junction, I don’t care. If a coach approaches me, we’ll be classy. It’s his last home game, let’s help him out.”
Doug Beach said the momentum of Conor starting helped spark his team in the first half, when the Warriors scored both of their goals.
The Wildcats scored in the sixth minute as Matt Emerson got free in the right side of the box and scored with a shot to the lower right side of the goal.
In the 20th minute, Central tied it up after an indirect free kick was called in the right corner of the goalie box. On the kick, with Fruita defenders filling the goal, Central forward Cory Rhodes sent a cross that ricocheted off Matt Miller’s chest into the net.
In the 37th minute, Rhodes got a free kick several yards behind the box and kicked a rainbow that finished in the top right corner.
Fruita controlled the ball in the second half, outshooting the Warriors 5-3.
Emerson tied the game in the 50th minute when he got free in the right side of the box and juked to the left as Tarin was coming after the ball.
“Honestly, I didn’t know he was there until he said ‘keeper,’ ” Emerson said. “The goalie said ‘I got it’ and I thought ‘Oh shoot, here he comes.’ “
The Wildcats took the lead three minutes later when Peter Martinez took a shot from about 30 yards out that finished in the top of the net.
Martinez scored again in the 74th minute on a penalty kick.