Guarding the goal: Yurick’s play a big reason for Tigers’ success
Versatility has been the strength of the Grand Junction High School girls soccer team this spring.
A multi-faceted attack has propelled the Tigers (6-3, 4-2 SWL) to second place in the Southwestern League.
“I feel our strength is found all over,” Grand Junction coach Adrea Tilford said. “We have a good group of defenders who make good decisions, a group of midfielders who work really well together and forwards who want to finish and work hard to finish.”
The last line of defense, though, has the Tigers thinking playoffs.
Behind four-year starter Shari Yurick in goal, the Tigers have allowed seven goals in nine games, and only allowed more than one goal twice. Five of the Tigers’ six wins have been shutouts.
Tilford said Yurick’s leadership is a cornerstone to the Tigers’ success.
“Her experience brings a lot to the game,” Tilford said. “She sees things really well, and works to encourage her teammates. We want her to be a positive voice in the back.”
Yurick said she’s progressed a lot since her freshman season.
“I feel a lot more confident than I used to, and it might be because I’ve really bonded with the team the last couple of years,” Yurick said. “We have a lot of girls that I’ve grown up playing soccer with.”
Yurick hasn’t done it alone. Defenders Jenna Short, Allison Maryanski, Morgan Leany and Kricket Adleman keep her as clean as possible. Yurick said the Tigers’ defense is solid because of the familiarity they have with each other.
“We have a strong defensive line,” Yurick said. “We all know how each other move, and everyone hustles to get back when we need it.”
Although the Tigers’ defense has been tough to beat, Grand Junction lost two one-goal games to Durango, 2-1 and 1-0.
Now the Tigers need to win their final four SWL games to ensure a playoff spot.
The sense of urgency isn’t anything new to the Tigers.
“We’ve felt that way all season,” Tilford said. “We now have to work hard to get the games ahead of us, and hope everything falls into place.”
The Tigers have six games remaining, beginning at 4:30 today at Walker Field against Montrose.
After two more league games, Grand Junction travels to Smoky Hill and George Washington.
“We’ve talked about how important (the next few games) could be in the process of seeding,” Tilford said. “When you’ve made an impression with the people who do the official seeding, you want them to remember that you played tough.”