Padgett helps Fruita top Grand Junction

In theory, you know what you’re getting when you play against Fruita Monument senior Wesley Padgett.

He’s fast. Really fast. But if you don’t let him behind your defensive line, you can limit the damage he does.

So, when the Grand Junction boys soccer team picked up an early goal Tuesday night to take a 1-0 lead at Walker Field, the Tigers learned how hard, in actuality, it is to cover Padgett, the reigning Southwestern League Player of the Year

Padgett, who had scored five goals in Fruita’s first three games, burned two Tiger defenders and sidestepped a diving goalie to score an equalizer into the bottom right corner of the net. From there, the Wildcats scored another goal before the half, and they never trailed again on the way to topping Grand Junction 5-3.

“He’s pretty direct, in all honesty,” Grand Junction coach Stephen Latta said. “He has the speed and physicality.”

Fruita Monument coach Dan McKee said Padgett’s speed helped open the field for other players.

“He had a goal and an assist tonight in typical Wesley fashion,” McKee said. “Him going back and forth, up and down the field, occupying time, gave guys like Devin (Bird) and Kyle (Breeden) chances. They pulled off Wes, so he wouldn’t blow by them, and I mean I knew we had some talent with Kyle, but he really showed it tonight.”

Breeden and Bird showcased the speed of the Wildcats on the wings and in open space. Each created space on a run, and each beat the goalie one-on-one.

Grand Junction didn’t get a chance to use its speed, as Fruita’s defense played a high line, at times as high as midfield. Grand Junction was offsides numerous times and open to counterattacks.

The opportunity for counterattacks, combined with the slick playing surface, benefitted the run-it-in style of the Wildcats, McKee said.

“We were worried about how fast the ball was going to play at first,” McKee said. “But we held it where we could possess it and did a good job moving it when we could. We created opportunity after opportunity.”

The Tigers threatened late when Kevin Villar scored off a rebound to make it 3-2, but they couldn’t tie it up, despite a handful of chances late.

During the final four minutes, Fruita Monument picked up two goals, and Grand Junction scored one.

The Tigers picked up their final goal on a penalty kick in stoppage time.


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