Fruita soccer team loses, still clinches playoff berth
Fruita Monument’s final regular season soccer game came down to the final minute.
The Southwestern League’s leading scorer, Peter Martinez, held Fruita’s playoff hopes in his hands Tuesday night, but the senior striker wasn’t trying to score a goal. After an errant tackle on a Montrose breakaway resulted in a penalty kick and two yellow cards, starting goalkeeper Scott Mende was momentarily sent off, and it was up to Martinez to maintain the 1-1 tie.
Martinez dove right and saved the ball, but couldn’t corral the rebound, as Montrose senior Zach Nadiak put it away on his second attempt to give Montrose the 2-1 win at Canyon View Park.
“I think the last time I played goalie was in practice a few weeks ago,” Martinez said. “I was kind of nervous, but I knew I could stop the penalty kick because I stop them in practice. It was fun to play goalie for a bit.”
Despite the loss, Fruita still clinched a Class 5A playoff spot with Central’s 2-0 loss to Grand Junction.
After a scoreless first half, Montrose (11-0-3, 7-0-2 SWL) struck first when junior Alec Rose sprung free behind the Wildcat defense and tapped home a lead pass from sophomore Vijay Singh.
In the 62nd minute, Fruita (7-8, 6-4 SWL) drew even Martinez headed in a back-post corner kick.
“This game was huge for us,” Fruita coach Dan McKee said. “We know we’re a top-10 team, and it’s that Western Slope mentality that we don’t get looked at as much (as Front Range teams).
“Montrose is a really good team. They won the Air Academy tournament earlier this year against some of the best teams in the state and this is the second time we’ve hung with them. We out passed them and out played them; we just fell short.”
The undefeated Indians are the top team in the SWL and poised to make a run deep in the Class 4A playoffs.
“Generally, although today isn’t the best example, we’ve played well as a team,” Montrose coach Jim Pavlich said. “We have 11 guys on the field and seven guys on the bench that we can count on to win games. You have to hand it to Fruita, they really wanted it they won all the 50-50’s and strung passes together well.”
Grand Junction 2, Central 0: The Tigers (3-8-3, 3-6-1 SWL) eliminated Central (7-7, 4-5 SWL) from playoff contention with the victory.
Kyle Gibbons and Luis Gutierrez each scored a goal in the first half.
Glenwood Springs 4, Palisade 1: The Demons scored all four goals in the second half to defeat Palisade (2-13, 0-10 WSL) in its final game of the season.
Spencer Jackson scored for the Bulldogs on an assists from Joe Talbott.
Jose Miranda had four saves and Conner Carey had three for Palisade.