Murdock’s four goals help GJ beat Central
It was the Josh Murdock and Matt Miller show Thursday night at Walker Field.
Murdock, a senior at Grand Junction, scored four goals to lead the Tigers to a 6-4 Southwestern League soccer win over Central.
Miller, a senior at Central, had three goals.
“It’s nice to score four goals, but this was a total team effort,” Murdock said.
With both rosters filled with underclassmen, it was the seniors who shined the brightest.
Grand Junction’s Marcel Mavangulu scored the other two goals and assisted on three of Murdock’s goals. Senior Trian Hawks had the other assist.
For the Warriors, senior Marcel Williams had the other goal.
Central (1-4, 0-2) jumped to an early 1-0 lead when Miller used his speed and slick ball handling to burst through the Tigers’ defense. Securing the ball near midfield, Miller dribbled and sped down the left sideline before breaking free in the left side of the box and drilling a right-footed shot off the far post in the third minute.
Grand Junction (2-2, 1-1) responded 12 minutes later when Mavangulu gained possession and made a quick pass to Murdock, who nailed the goal.
It was the start of a common sight — Murdock breaking free for goals or shots.
“I’m a fast and physical player, and we have a good passing scheme, so it was easy to break through,” he said.
Time and time again, Murdock was free in the box, tormenting the Central defense. At the 26-minute mark, he rifled a high shot that found the net, then had another opportunity a minute later.
The frantic pace kept Central’s defense busy.
But Miller took advantage of a free kick from 20 yards away, powering a high shot over the wall and just under the crossbar to put the Warriors ahead 3-2.
“It was really stressful at first because they were scoring, and so were we,” Murdock said. “It was a wild first half.”
That’s an understatement.
It was a wild, frenzied, furious and intense first half. Murdock had a great chance after Miller’s goal, but Central goalkeeper Lorenzo Archuleta was up to the challenge.
Murdock didn’t miss his next opportunity, scoring in the 36th minute. That was followed a little more than a minute later by a Mavangulu goal to give Grand Junction a 4-3 halftime lead.
Mavangulu collected his second goal three minutes into the second half for a 5-3 lead.
Murdock scored his fourth goal when he again found open space and popped the ball over Archuleta and off the far post in the 58th minute.
Central wouldn’t go away, with Miller again flashed his ball-handling skills. He had been defended well in the second half, but in the 63rd minute he poked a shot past Grand Junction keeper Athen Hayes.
“We were focused at the beginning, and we played hard,” Miller said. “I think after that first goal we relaxed a little bit. Grand Junction came right back, so props to them. They really came back hard.”
Miller said it’s fun to play against Murdock.
“We played together for a while (in club ball), and it’s definitely fun to play against him and see him do good too,” Miller said. “It’s definitely kind of a rivalry between us, but he took it tonight.”