One is enough
Central gets first goal and win of season against GJ
Grand Junction’s first-half Thursday night was filled with good scoring opportunities and nothing to show for them.
Central had one good scoring opportunity, and the Warriors won their first girls soccer game of the season with it.
Moreover, it was the first goal of the spring for Central, which improved to 1-5-1 overall and 1-3-1 in the Southwestern League with the 1-0 victory at Walker Field.
The Warriors’ goal was all about right place, right time, right people.
With about 12 minutes to go in the first half, Makaylee Cloud broke away on the left side and thought she was setting up a left-footed shot on goal. The time it took her to slow down and get positioned, though, allowed Grand Junction defender Taylor Kochevar to streak in for a tackle, which resulted in a foul call and a free kick by Central’s Lynzee Dwyer from the left corner of the 18-yard box.
“I thought I had a good shot. Then, the next thing I know, I’m on the ground,” said Cloud, who laughed and added, “I took one for the team.”
The spot of the free kick just happens to be one of Dwyer’s favorites to shoot from. She lofted a right-footed shot to the upper right corner of the goal, a spot she says she can hit consistently, and it sailed past the outstretched arms of the goalie.
“She loves it,” Central goalkeeper Marisa Brown said of the spot Dwyer kicked from. “She works on it so much.”
Dwyer liked the Warriors’ odds of scoring on the play, adding, “My teammates would be there if it didn’t go in.”
Beyond that opportunity, Central’s victory came down to denying the Tigers, which was accomplished by its defensive approach to the game.
Even then, the shutout boiled down to Brown, all 5-feet, 4-inches of her, being an impenetrable wall.
“Marisa, I don’t think words do justice to how well she played in goal tonight,” Central coach Jacob Pingel said. “A lot of teams think they can pick on her because of her size, go up and over her, but she was the biggest player on the field tonight.”
Ten minutes into the game, Brown stopped a high, hard shot down the middle, and she was busy thereafter, some of her 12 saves more spectacular than others, such as the ball she punched over the crossbar with about four minutes, 15 seconds left in the first half. She hurt her right wrist on the play, but the pain didn’t slow her.
“Against teams like this, you’ve got to be big, and you can’t go down, even if you’re hurting,” Brown said. “I had to stay strong for my defense, strong for my whole team. I had so much adrenaline.”
Of all the shots the Tigers took, the one that scared Brown came with about 4:15 left in the game. Grand Junction’s Courtney Barger spun to get past a defender at the top of the 18-yard box, then fired a low, hard shot. Brown, however, had come out from the goal, and she timed her slide right, knocking the ball away with her shin.
“Those are one of my weaknesses,” Brown said of one-on-one plays.
The fact she made that save, though, was one more example of the Warriors’ determination to get their first win.
“We put up a fight,” Brown said. “We put up a real big fight. We’ve been wanting it.”
Grand Junction coach Joe Graham saw that, too.
Rather than lament his team’s missed opportunities, he praised the Warriors’ effort.
“You have to give all the credit to Central, who’s had a tough season and still is working hard,” Graham said. “I think Jacob Pingel is doing a great job over there.”
Grand Junction (2-4-1, 1-1-1) had a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal. The one shot that didn’t go down as a save for Brown was a carom off the crossbar.