Fruita Monument blanks Grand Junction in soccer
Fruita Monument High School goalie Scott Mende wasn’t lacking motivation in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against Grand Junction.
On senior night at Walker Field, Mende was playing not only his last home game, but his final game against the school’s main rival.
“For me, I was a little more amped up because this is my last time ever playing Junction,” Mende said. “I guess it’s kind of special, but once the game starts it’s all the same — adrenaline’s pumping.”
On his last night against the Tigers (1-8-2, 1-6 Southwestern League), Mende kept his cool amongst a defensive showdown in which shots on goal were rare and saves were key.
“It was a nailbiter,” said Fruita (6-6, 5-2 SWL) coach Dan McKee, who credited Mende’s timely saves with setting the tone in the second half. “It was senior night, his last night on this field and he just stepped up big time.”
Throughout the game, the defensive back lines for both school played aggressively and kept strikers from getting in low, resulting in shots from outside the box. The infrequent shots on goal — each team had seven — mainly came on through balls.
Against the shots on goal, both Mende and Grand Junction goalie Hill Bonin got in front of what they needed to. Bonin had six saves, Mende had seven.
The one ball Bonin couldn’t stop came in the 59th minute when Fruita’s Peter Martinez put a quick through ball up the middle to forward Avery Kuper.
Kuper took the ball in mid sprint and put it to Bonin’s left.
“It was a good through ball by Peter,” Kuper said. “I just picked my head up, took my time and placed it far post.”
The Tigers spent most of the game with possession of the ball and nearly took the lead multiple times.
In the first half, Josh Murdock and Marcel Mavangulu each had breaks to the goal that resulted in diving saves by Mende.
In the second half, Kyle Gibbons had a shot deflected by Mende in the 54th minute that finished in front of the left side of the box. Gibbons was unable to make it to the open ball for a follow up shot.
Mende said that although he made key saves, the team in front of him deserved credit for the Wildcats’ fourth straight win, although the team is still waiting to clinch the SWL’s lone playoff spot.
“Any time we beat Junction it’s just great for us, but I’ve got to give props for my teammates,” he said. “They were the ones who scored the goal, our defense held it solid for me and I only had to make a couple of saves back there. Props to them.”
Eagle Valley 6, Palisade 2: Palisade had plenty of shots but couldn’t overcome an early deficit at Eagle Valley High School.
The Bulldogs (2-10, 1-8 Western Slope League) allowed four goals in the first half and trailed 4-1 at halftime.
Goalie Connor Carey had 12 saves for Palisade. The Bulldogs’ goals came from Dillon Renteria and Spencer Jackson.
Palisade finished its season with an 11-5 loss in Rifle.
The Bulldogs (6-12, 3-1 WSL) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but allowed four in the bottom of the inning.
Rifle pitcher Taylor Gore kept Palisade from scoring again until the sixth inning, at which point the Bears were up 11-3. Palisade then scored one run in the sixth and seventh innings.