Montrose clinches SWL soccer title
MONTROSE — To borrow a phrase from John McCain, Jim Lewis has ’em right where he wants ’em.
“They’re right where they need to be,” the Montrose High School soccer coach said of his team after it completed the regular season Thursday with a 5-1 victory over Central.
That hasn’t always been the case this season.
The Indians (10-4-1, 8-1-1 Southwestern League) began the season with four losses in their first five games.
Since a 1-0 nonleague loss to Battle Mountain, Montrose has gone 9-0-1.
“We had some personnel changes that we were trying to work through,” Lewis said.
“We moved some people around,” Indians senior forward Steven Tobler said.
After back-to-back losses to Grand Junction and Battle Mountain, the former being Montrose’s league opener, Montrose took stock.
“It was a huge wake-up call for them,” Lewis said of the 4-0 loss to the Tigers and a 1-0 loss to the Huskies in which the Indians dominated but couldn’t find the back of the net.
More than anything, Tobler said. “We started playing as a team. We started moving the ball.”
Both teams were moving the ball well in the opening 30 minutes Thursday, though neither was getting many chances for quality shots on goal.
That changed in the 32nd minute, when Tobler took a pass from Elisio Gomez and broke the scoreless tie. Tobler scored on a penalty kick just before the half to give the Indians some breathing room.
They breathed a lot easier in the second half when Gomez scored twice and Justin Walters got into the act on a follow shot.
Montrose challenged Central goalkeeper Tyler Felker in the second half; Felker finished with nine saves.
Montrose’s defense held the Warriors to only four shots on goal, including Kahler Grandbouche’s score with seven minutes remaining.
The victory assured Montrose of the SWL title and a probable home game in next week’s first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. The Colorado High School Activities Association’s soccer committee will announce the state playoff brackets Sunday.
The loss was the sixth in a row for Central (6-9-0, 3-7-0), which completed its season.