It’s worth a shot
Fruita's big shot advantage leads to key win over Central
The Central High School girls soccer team kept all 11 players near the goal box for much of Wednesday night’s game against Fruita Monument. The Wildcats responded by taking target practice.
Michaela Dangler and Lila Dere each scored for Fruita, which took 26 total shots and spent more than three-quarters of the game on Central’s side of the field en route to a key 2-0 Southwestern League victory at Walker Field.
“They played everyone behind the numbers, which is getting really popular right now. It’s kind of a ‘park the bus’ kind of style,” Fruita coach Alex Garza said. “It’s a really popular kind of style, but you don’t see it a lot of high school teams using it.
“Basically ... you have to take a lot of shots when you’re playing a team that puts 11 players behind the ball.”
Despite that numbers disadvantage, the Wildcats’ offense pressured the Warriors from start to finish. Their offense turned out to be their best defense — Fruita only allowed two total shots, with the Warriors’ only shot on frame coming off an indirect kick from 30 yards away from Central’s Chloe Marston in the 54th minute.
While the Wildcats (6-2, 2-1 SWL) never allowed the Warriors (4-4, 1-1) a point-blank scoring chance, Fruita’s offense pounded away at Central’s back line and goalkeeper Nikki Madaris, who left Fruita frustrated that the final score wasn’t any more lopsided.
“It’s really frustrating because that was hard. They’re really packed in there,” said Dere, who scored the Wildcats’ final goal near the end of the first half. “You really have to move the ball quickly, and we had spurts of that tonight. But we needed more of that than what we had.”
The win set up a critical game for the Wildcats against Durango, which beat Fruita 2-0 last Saturday. That gave the Demons (7-2, 2-0) a leg up on the Wildcats in the SWL race.
“We always called games like this one (against Central) a trap game because this would be a game some teams have a tendency to look past,” Garza said. “Now that we’ve got this out of the way, it feels good knowing we can focus only on Durango.”
Wednesday’s game could have been much more lopsided had it not been for Madaris, whose 19 saves are nearly double the 9.9 saves-per-game average she accumulated coming in. The Warriors had 21 total saves, with two coming from Central defenders who cleared would-be goals while Madaris was out of position.
Speaking to his team afterward, Central coach Ethan Johnson noted how his team lost 9-0 to Fruita two years ago and urged his players to focus on the progress they’ve made.
There was one part of the game he wasn’t particularly happy with.
“I’m furious, actually,” Johnson said. “That last 30 seconds of the first half when we just quit playing, well, it just doesn’t set well with me. If we keep that goal from scoring, we’re in a spot where we can score again and who knows what could happen.”
It was in that window, with 7.4 seconds left in the first half, when Dere scored on a shot from the right side of the goal box to the lower-left corner of the net.
Dangler scored in the seventh minute when a shot from Kristen Behrens was saved by Madaris, hit the upper crossbar and bounced to the far right of the Central goalie, who was unable to recover before Dangler punched in the rebound.
Dangler and the rest of the Wildcats hope Wednesday’s win gives them momentum headed into Saturday’s game.
“That’s a really big game,” Dere said.