Cornering the market

Corner kick leads to only goal of game in Central win

Central’s Hailey Keller wins a header from Grand Junction’s Lucy Raaum on Thursday night in the first half of the Warriors’ 1-0 victory at Walker Field.

Kristal Milholland’s corner kick with about 12 minutes, 15 seconds left in the game was not what she was looking for.

The Central High School senior didn’t get under the ball, instead lining it low along the back line, where a Grand Junction player got a foot on the ball, deflecting it out of bounds.

That led to another corner kick, and this time Milholland did exactly what she intended to do, lofting the ball to the front of the Tigers’ goal, forcing Grand Junction goalie KK Lacy to make a play on it, and Lacy knocked it down. In the ensuing scramble, no one from Central got a foot on the ball, but it rolled into the net, an own goal by the Tigers in the 69th minute.

It also was the game’s only goal as the Warriors edged Grand Junction 1-0 in a Southwestern League girls soccer game Thursday at Walker Field.

“It’s not the way we wanted to win, but we’ll take it,” Central coach Ethan Johnson said. “A win’s a win.”

The goal didn’t come off the foot of a Warrior, but everything else about the corner kick was what Central (4-3, 1-1 SWL) was aiming to do, Johnson said.

“We’ve been dangerous off corners all season,” he said. “Our corner-kick taker puts them in the box, and that’s all you need.”

Getting that second corner kick immediately after misfiring on one allowed Milholland to adjust and put it in the air. She said, “It’s definitely a change on the turf here,” compared with the grass at Long Family Park, where Central often plays.

Once the ball got knocked down in front of the goal, this is what Milholland saw: “My whole team crashed in. They all wanted it. It kind of got mixed up in everybody and went in.”

It didn’t matter how the ball got into the goal, just that it got there, and Milholland said that’s what Central seeks on corner kicks, an opportunity in front of the net.

It was a rare scoring opportunity by either team as Central was limited to four shots on goal, and the Tigers took three.

Grand Junction nearly took a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half when Lucy Raaum fought through a tackle deep on the right side, regained control and rifled a low shot toward the near post. Central goalie Cori Evering got low to stop the shot at the post, but she didn’t gain control, and the ball rolled toward the goal line. Evering trapped the ball against the post, and an official ruled the entire ball had not crossed the line, which it must to be a goal.

The Tigers’ next best scoring opportunity came about a minute after the own goal. Raaum made a deep run on the right side before Central defender Gabby Self knocked the ball away, leading to a Grand Junction corner kick.

That was the last good opportunity to score by either team.

Johnson was happy with the Warriors’ defense, especially the back line.

“We have possibly the two strongest center backs in the conference,” he said of Milholland and Hailey Keller.

The Tigers played great defense, too, and Grand Junction coach Travis Brown said it was a shame the goal was scored the way it was and his girls weren’t rewarded with a win for their effort.

“It’s a tough loss,” he said. “We played our hearts out. We left our hearts out on the field. I’m proud of every single one of them. We’re getting better every game.”

Palisade 4, Summit 0: The Bulldogs got goals from Maya Hilty, Christina Chatfield, Lexi Newton and Samantha Feller during their Class 4A Western Slope League win.

Feller added two assists as the Bulldogs (6-2, 5-2 WSL) remained in third place in the league behind Steamboat Springs (8-1, 7-0) and Battle Mountain (8-2, 7-1).


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