GJ’s offense finally shows its stuff vs. Wildcats

As a dejected Kate Dusenbury of Fruita Monument walks past, Stephanie Drake, No. 10, smiles as she celebrates with hugs from two of her Grand Junction High School teammates after scoring the first goal of Tuesday’s game at Walker Field.

Despite a solid won-loss record, Grand Junction High School girls soccer coach Adrea Tilford had been waiting all season for things to click offensively.

On Tuesday, things clicked like a pair of castanets.

The Tigers (5-3-2, 2-0-2 Southwestern League) scored three goals in each half in a convincing 6-0 victory over Fruita Monument at Mesa State College’s Walker Field.

“They’ve been busting their butts to see it all click,” Tilford said. “Tonight it did.”

Not that it didn’t take a while.

The teams struggled through the first 25 minutes in a scoreless tie in the type of game Grand Junction was expecting.

“We practice so hard to beat our rivals,” Tigers sophomore forward Stephanie Drake said of what is usually a close battle.

“We knew (the Wildcats) were going to pack it in and play defense,” Tilford said.

The Tigers’ relentlessness finally paid off.

“(Monday at practice) we worked a lot on getting the ball in the middle,” Tilford said.

“We slowed the ball down and we had the heart not to give up,” Drake said.

She was the first to benefit. After a ball got past the Fruita Monument defense, Drake broke the scoring drought.

“It was (a matter of) penetrating their defense,” Drake said. “It took a while, getting that last pass.”

Within 13 minutes, Grand Junction had two more goals as Kirstin Ryan kicked in a strong left-footed shot from 20 yards out from the left side and Whitney Ravan scored on a follow shot three minutes later.

“The girls did what they had to do,” Tilford said.

“I think their defense was tough but in the end, it was our heart,” Drake said.

Tilford said Drake was at the forefront of that effort.

“That kid has so much heart and determination when she gets the ball in the middle,” Tilford said.

“We had the heart not to give up,” Drake said.

Drake and Ryan each added their second goals in the second half, sandwiched around a score by Morgan Leany.

The loss was the second in a row for the Wildcats (1-8, 1-3 SWL).

After opening the SWL season with two ties, the Tigers have won their past two games.

“I think it’s how close we’ve come as a team,” Drake said of the change in fortunes. “We can read each other better.

“I think we’ve learned to work the ball through and to work more as a team rather than as individuals.”

Grand Junction gets nine days off between games, traveling to Montrose on April 16.

Fruita Monument makes its annual trek south this weekend to the Four Corners region.


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