Making his 2nd chance
After missing easy goal, Palisade's Combs scores in win
Marques Combs blew it, and he knew it.
He was not going to get a better scoring opportunity than the golden one he missed with 21 minutes, 20 seconds left in Palisade’s Class 4A Western Slope League boys soccer game Wednesday against Eagle Valley.
Not a better chance, but Combs did get another one, and finally, with 12:40 remaining in a game in which Palisade watched great opportunity after great opportunity go unrewarded, Combs delivered the lone goal as the Bulldogs defeated the Devils 1-0 at Walker Field.
Combs was just inside the boundary of the 18-yard box on the right side when he pounded a crossing shot to the left side of the goal.
“After I missed that first, wide-open one, I was hoping to get another one, and hoping the defense would finish it out, and that’s what happened,” Combs said.
That previous opportunity was the kind forwards dream about, but it had a nightmare ending. Combs juked Eagle Valley goalkeeper Colin Rouaud, who came out of the goal to defend Combs, and when Rouaud fell to the ground, Combs had no one in his way as he dribbled in from the left side toward the wide-open net.
This was too easy. Combs could have dribbled to the center of the goal and tapped the ball in. Instead, from several yards away, he fired a hard shot, and of all things, he drilled the near post. No goal.
“I rushed it,” Combs admitted. “I had too many things on my mind. I was thinking, ‘Don’t hit the post. Don’t hit the post.’ I hit the post.”
It made sense, though, in that it was the way Senior Night was going for Palisade.
In the first half, sophomore Johnny Moir, whom Bulldogs coach Austin Wallace praised for his hustle and emerging in recent games as a scoring threat, had three sterling opportunities from close range. About nine minutes into the contest, he was one-on-one with Rouaud, but the freshman keeper stuffed his shot. Ninety seconds later, Moir was one-on-one with Rouaud again. The goalie stonewalled him again.
Moir’s third opportunity was different. He waited for a long, leading pass, then dribbled down the right side and took a hard shot, but it went wide of the near post.
“I told them at halftime, we’re playing a great game,” Wallace said. “We’re doing exactly what we want to do, we’re just missing.”
Luck wasn’t with Palisade’s offense in the first half, but the Bulldogs were lucky to have Ivan Galindo minding their net. The freshman goalie was a big reason Palisade didn’t fall behind. He made three saves in the first five minutes of the contest, including an exceptional one in which he reached to his left to knock down a hard shot from several yards away.
“That was a big one for us,” Wallace said. “When we give up the first goal, we tend to get our heads down.”
Wallace added defender Daniel Kachin was instrumental in preventing Eagle Valley from getting a better shot, then getting the ball away safely after Galindo’s save.
The win was the second in two nights and the third in four games for Palisade, which had a rough start to the season but is putting together a strong finish. The Bulldogs (5-9) play their season finale Saturday, at home against Summit, which is in second place in the 4A WSL.
Combs said it’s too bad the season is almost over.
“We’re really starting to connect,” he said. “Hopefully we carry it over to next season.”
Kind of like Combs’ goal Wednesday, the team’s improvement also is better late than never.
“Senior Night, it’s always good to go out with a win,” Combs said.