Melchor’s late goal lifts Tigers past Wildcats
Moving quickly proved to be the key for the Grand Junction High School girls soccer team Thursday night at Walker Field.
Instead of waiting for her team and the defense to set up on a free kick in the second overtime, the Tigers’ Taylor Kochevar sent a twirling, knuckling 25-yard shot into the Fruita Monument box. A miscommunication between Wildcats goalkeeper Kylie Goetz and a defender led to a collision and the ball landed at the feet of Grand Junction’s Sam Melchor.
Melchor tapped the ball into the net and was swarmed by her teammates in the Tigers’ 1-0 victory.
“I was just thinking ‘score this ball,’ I wanted to win,” Melchor said. “It was amazing, playing our hardest and showing that we are the Tigers.”
The win over Fruita comes in the same six-day stretch where Grand Junction scared Class 4A No. 1 Montrose in a 3-2 loss and played private school powerhouse Valor Christian to a 1-1 draw.
Coach Joe Graham said a switch to a 4-5-1 formation has aided the Tigers (3-7-2, 2-4-1 Southwestern League). Kochevar was key in the new formation, and it allowed Leah Swander — still recovering from an injured left knee — to focus on distributing with her limited mobility.
“The team voted on it, and we went with it, so we’re now playing a 4-5-1,” Graham said. “Everybody is kind of up, together, and there’s more people on the wings helping. It allows our center-mids to be more offensive, rather than sitting on defense all the time. Jordan Drake is really pressing the attack for us, and it’s put different players in position to succeed as a team.”
The Tigers took a number of shots from outside the box, but their only shot inside the box was Melchor’s goal. Grand Junction increased the tempo in the second half, and took advantage of injuries in the Wildcat midfield.
Fruita Monument coach Eric Anderson said the concussion freshman Jordan Padgett sustained Tuesday limited the Wildcats’ (6-5-1, 4-2-1 SWL) energy in the midfield.
“It hurt us,” Anderson said. “We had to move someone into the middle field, so we had to take them from somewhere else. And then take another player to fill in that slot.
“We were just kind of out of position today as far as not having a starting player. You know, the girls came out a little flat. They started out each half well, but as the half went on, they started losing track of players. Junction came out and wanted it more. They have a lot of talent on that team.”
The boys high school lacrosse game between Grand Junction and Fruita Monument that was postponed Wednesday because of snow has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Walker Field.