Prolonged possession in 2nd half helps Tigers top Indians

Grand Junction’s Garrison Corn, 10, celebrates Tuesday after scoring the first goal of the Tigers’ 5-3 victory over Kevin Murillo, left, and Montrose.

When the Grand Junction High School boys soccer team broke a scoreless tie Tuesday afternoon, Montrose had the answer.

When the Indians took a 2-1 lead on a penalty kick from Liam Singh, the Tigers responded almost immediately.

But after trading goals early in the match at Canyon View Park, Grand Junction’s offense possessed the ball more effectively, opened a three-goal lead and ultimately rolled to a 5-3 Southwestern League victory.

For most of the first half, the Tigers (6-1, 1-0 SWL) attacked the Indians (4-2, 0-1) directly with limited success. The center of Montrose’s formation turned away many of the Grand Junction’s attacks. But as frustration mounted, side-to-side play and prolonged possession opened up the Tigers’ offense for more scoring opportunities.

Grand Junction uses a 4-5-1 formation, allowing the Tigers’ skilled midfielders to move forward in attack. First-year Grand Junction coach Jonathan Pando said the renewed focus on possession swung the game.

“We didn’t show the game early on that we normally have, which is possession,” Pando said. “We like to play a more possessive game, which they started to show in the second half. They started to string passes together and using smarter play between our own players.

“At first we were playing very direct, just always trying to go forward. I always try to emphasize in practice that we need to move with the ball. The more time we have with the ball, the more opportunities we’ll eventually get. They eventually started doing that a little better in the second half. That’s where we got two or three goals in a row.”

Abram Sanchez gave Grand Junction its first opportunity in the 13th minute, working the ball deep into the box, then crossing to Garrison Corn for a point-blank shot and goal. Montrose’s Prajwol Chaudhary answered less than 90 seconds later on a goal assisted by Victor Ortega.

Montrose took a 2-1 lead on Singh’s penalty kick, then Sanchez set up another goal, connecting with Josiah Koger to tie the game. In the 34th minute, Sanchez got one for himself, blasting a 25-yard free kick low and right of the wall to give Grand Junction a one-goal lead that it would carry into halftime.

Sanchez said the offensive energy started to build toward the end of the fist half.

“That’s what we’ve been focused on in training — getting our minds focused on the attack and getting a bunch of people flooded into the attacking third,” Sanchez said. “Just making sure we’re capitalizing on our chances. That’s just something that comes as we’re seniors now. We have some really good seniors in the attacking third and we have some really good chemistry. We basically know what we’re going to do and that really helps us capitalize on our chances.”

For Montrose coach Jim Pavlich, the game started to shift with the play of Grand Junction attacking midfielder Jake Chaffetz. A series of long runs had Chaffetz weaving through defenders and using his distributing talents to set up scores. Pavlich said his defense played well enough and limited the Tigers’ opportunities, but Chaffetz’s play and a series of momentum-killing possessions made the game more lopsided.

“(Chaffetz) is a pretty dynamic player and he played forward quite a bit,” Pavlich said. “We didn’t have a solution for him immediately. When he came out in the second half and made a couple big runs, we got kinda back. Then we had a couple calls go kinda wonky, we get on our heels, we stop winning 50-50 balls. When that happens, the game shifts tempo, and Grand Junction got the tempo there.”

Chaffetz added the first goal of the second half, burying a penalty kick when he was fouled on the outer edge of the penalty box and Rogelio Lariz scored the Tigers’ final goal on a deflection later in the half.

Montrose tacked on one goal in the game’s final moments on a header from Brett Byers.


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