‘Dogs get defensive
Palisade clamps down on Eagle Valley for easy victory
Amidst the hype surrounding Palisade High School’s girls soccer team and its high-powered offense, it might be easy to overlook a defense that has only surrendered one goal in each of its two wins this season.
That defense, overcoming communication struggles Thursday, helped the Bulldogs top Eagle Valley 7-1 at Long Family Memorial Park.
For the second game in a row, the Bulldogs held their opponents to single-digit shots on a goal. Eagle Valley didn’t have a shot on goal until 20 minutes into the game.
Coach Raina Sorensen said the defense was a major focus.
“There was a lack of communication and trust in the back line today,” Sorensen said. “We didn’t show any of the potential our back line has. We had a talk at halftime and it got better, but it’s something we’re going to stress in practice.”
The Bulldog offense, for the second game in a row, notched more than a dozen shots on goal. Natalie Combs scored a hat trick for Palisade, and the offense kept the ball in the attacking third for the majority of the game.
“Natalie Combs has stepped up and been the player we were trying to get her to be for two years,” Sorensen said. “She was dribbling around people, making great passes, winning balls and she got a hat trick because of it. Her performance was very impressive and what this team needs right now.”
Combs, a junior, used the offseason to not only improve her physical skills, but mentally prepare for the season.
“I’ve gotten more confident on the ball,” Combs said. “I dribble with purpose and can take on defenders better one-on-one. I want to score no matter what it takes.”
Palisade’s underclassmen also helped shoulder the offensive load. Freshman Jennifer Hicks’ long cross curled into the net, her first goal of the season. Sophomore Cruz Maestas added two goals.
“We work really well together as a team,” Combs said. “We have a lot of freshmen, but they came and were hard-working and willing to mesh in the offense. We’re just trying to stay really intense, not get overconfident, and treat every game the same.”
Palisade now has to face a Battle Mountain squad that thumped Delta 6-0 earlier this month. Sorensen said she’s concerned her team’s lack of communication could hurt them when they face stronger opponents.
“We just need to work on communication,” Sorensen said. “It was silent out there and that could hurt us.”
Fruita Monument picked up its first win of the season at Stocker Stadium, led by four goals and one assist from Clay Campbell and solid goalkeeping by Courtney Petek.
Petek faced 16 shots and saved 11 for the Wildcats (1-1). Kiana Vogt also scored three goals for Fruita.
Down 3-1, Fruita Monument won three consecutive doubles matches to down Aspen, 4-3. Taylor Poudrier and Shannon Hautzinger won at No. 4 doubles to clinch the win for the Wildcats. “Playing in Aspen on their clay courts was a tough adjustment for us,” Fruita coach Clint Davis said. “It will be real nice to get our feet back on solid ground.”
Grand Junction 6, Dakota Ridge 1: Without No. 1 singles player Kylie Pond, Grand Junction reeled off six matches after No. 1 singles to win its first dual of the season.