Lack of rhythm hurts Fruita in loss to Montrose

Fruita Monument’s Mackenzie King tries to dribble around Montrose’s Stephanie Rowan, back, and Macy Gurule, 9, Thursday in Fruita’s 2-1 loss.

It was a frustrating afternoon for the Fruita Monument girls soccer team as rhythm was as elusive as a runaway candy wrapper in the wind.

Montrose took advantage of a few first-half scoring opportunities and turned them into a 2-1 Southwestern League win over the Wildcats at Canyon View Park on Thursday.

“That’s the nature of this sport,” Fruita Monument coach Jeff Shuldener said. “It’s a game where you try and get into a rhythm, and normally our team gets into that rhythm, if not the first half, then in the second half.”

Montrose had a lot to do with keeping the Wildcats from finding the momentum and rhythm.

“In the second half they did everything they could to disrupt our game,” Shuldener said.

Montrose (6-3, 4-1 SWL) frustrated Fruita Monument (5-2-1, 3-1-1) with relentless defensive pressure on the ball.

Montrose head coach Jamie Gurule said the Indians came out with a specific defensive strategy in the second half.

“We caused a lot of bad passes by pressuring the pass to the sweeper,” he said. “I think it confused them a little.”

Reluctant to completely reveal his winning strategy, Gurule smiled and said it was a simple strategy: “We just pressured their sweeper.”

Fruita Monument jumped to a 1-0 lead when senior Jennis Hart found the net around the 15-minute mark.

Up to that point and for the next 14 minutes, the Wildcats were dictating the game and winning the possession battle.

Stephanie Rowan scored in the 30th minute, the first of her two goals, on a quick opportunity for the Indians.

The ball bounced off Fruita goalkeeper Jessica Smith, and Rowan took advantage of her second chance in the box and popped the ball into the net.

Six minutes later, Montrose had another good chance, but Smith made a nice save.

With the time running down in the first half, Rowan scored again to give the Indians the 2-1 lead.

“They were opportunistic for sure,” Shuldener said. “We had a couple of missed touched balls that led to their goals, and to their credit they took advantage.”

The Wildcats had a few opportunities to tie the score in the second half but came away empty every time.

Shaylee Holt found some space just outside the box, but her shot sailed high for the Wildcats. Then, Samantha Neuville made a crossing pass that came scintillatingly close to perfection in front of the net, but the ball bounced harmlessly through the box.

In the 76th minute, the Wildcats launched a barrage of shots at Montrose goalkeeper Randilyn Madison. On the first save, the ball bounded free in the box, but a second hard shot drilled defender Chandler Madison point-blank in the chest right in front of the goal and caromed away. Randilyn Madison secured the third shot and denied the Wildcats on their best scoring chance of the second half.

Shuldener said the Indians’ pressure kept the Wildcats from finding their rhythm.

“To the credit of the Indians, they had just enough pressure on the ball that our touches were just a little off today,” he said .“We could never get that last pass that would lead to a scoring opportunity in the second half.”


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