Goal oriented

Padgett's hat trick helps Fruita overcome Grand Junction goalkeeper's big game

Fruita Monument’s Wesley Padgett fires a shot wide past Grand Junction’s goal as the Tigers’ Trian Hawks, 8, and Jonas Schroeer defend Tuesday in the Wildcats’ 3-1 victory at Walker Field. Padgett had three goals in the win.

For most of the second half Tuesday, it looked like Grand Junction goalkeeper Michael Hansen was going to play hero for the Tigers.

After surrendering a goal to Wesley Padgett on Fruita Monument’s first shot of the game, Hansen made 15 straight saves.

Marcel Mavangulu picked up a goal on the Tigers’ only shot of the game 15 minutes into the second half, but Padgett added two goals late in the second half on his way to a hat trick in the Wildcats’ 3-1 Southwestern League boys soccer victory at Walker Field.

Fruita outshot Grand Junction 22-1.

Records usually get thrown out for rivalry games, but Fruita coach Dan McKee said Grand Junction surprised him. The Tigers (3-7, 2-4 SWL) had been outscored 19-1 in the three games prior to their match against Fruita (9-2, 6-0 SWL). The Wildcats, conversely, didn’t allow a shot in their 3-0 win against Durango on Saturday.

But McKee said Grand Junction held its own against the league-leading Wildcats, who have started receiving votes in the CHSAANow.com 5A soccer poll.

“We just couldn’t find a spot to get it past (Hansen),” McKee said. “Anywhere we were shooting, he was at. We were kicking it right at him in the first half, and we talked about making an adjustment at halftime and shooting low on him.

“We got going in the second half, but couldn’t find a spot to beat him until Wes finally broke through. That’s the kind of player that Wes is. He just has the mentality that sometimes he is going to take over. The passes hit him right where they needed to be, and Wes took care of it. That’s what Wesley does best.”

Hansen finished with 19 saves. The junior goalie stuffed numerous solo breakaways and broke up several crosses into the box.

“I told him that most players at every level only have a handful of games like that,” Grand Junction coach Stephen Latta said. “In terms of an out-of-body experience, I mean, high-level college goalkeepers and professionals try to make that level of play as consistent as possible, but Mike was just out of this world.

“I’ll be honest with you, most of his high-quality play can be attributed to (assistant coach) Todd Bondurant. He was a great keeper in college, played as long as he could play, and now he holds our keepers to an extremely high standard. Mike’s been put through some hard training, and it’s showing.”

Hansen said he’s never played at that level before.

“I’ve had good games,” Hansen said. “I’m always trying to play well, especially against Fruita, but that was probably the best I’ve ever played. I can’t really pin it on one thing. It was just one of those games.”

Padgett, the reigning SWL Player of the Year, pushed his season total to 17 goals. Padgett is currently second in Class 5A in goals scored.

“We really had to out-possess them and get plenty of shots,” Padgett said. “But really, I have to give a lot of the credit to our defense. Allowing one shot in two games makes our job easy on offense.”

McKee said Fruita’s defense has found its stride. The Wildcats have won their league games by a combined score of 26-4.

“We joked about (goalkeeper) Dominic Gaty only having to face one shot in the last two games, and unfortunately that shot went in today,” McKee said. “We came into this game with four consecutive league shutouts. We were really hoping for our fifth, but unfortunately we just didn’t get there.”


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