Rhodes’ first two goals against GJ lift Central to win
Central High School forward Cory Rhodes had never scored a goal against crosstown rival Grand Junction.
Until Tuesday night.
The senior scored a pair of goals as the Warriors topped the Tigers 3-2 at Walker Field.
“This was actually the first time I’ve ever scored on Junction and it felt good,” Rhodes said.
The Warriors (5-2, 3-1 Southwestern League) rallied behind Rhodes’ clutch goals.
In the 26th minute, he took a pass from Matt Miller, broke free inside the box and scored past Grand Junction goalie Hill Bonin.
With 20 minutes left in regulation, Rhodes scored his second goal on a cross from Leo Herman.
Rhodes made a run up the middle of the box, Herman’s crossing pass from outside the box was right on target and Rhodes headed it in without stopping his run.
“That was just a beautiful cross by Leo,” Central coach Doug Beach said. “Cory put himself in the right place and put it in the back of the net. It was awesome.”
Other than Rhodes’ goals, the game was a close match.
Throughout the game, the two teams equally traded possession, with much of the play taking place in the middle of the field. Many runs were stopped by both defense, which played tight and physical.
Central outshot Grand Junction 11-8 and the Tigers (0-4-2, 0-2 SWL) had scoring opportunities until the final whistle.
“It could have gone either way, really,” Beach said. “This has always been a game, no matter if somebody’s in first or somebody’s in second, it’s always been a rough game and it’s always been a game that you don’t know who’s going to win.”
Central jumped to an early lead behind Rhodes’ first goal, but each team scored in the stoppage time to end the half.
Central took a 2-0 lead on a corner kick by Brady Carroll that was headed in by Jacob Sebesta.
Moments later, Grand Junction scored on a shot from 30 yards away by forward Josh Murdock. The ball sailed into the net just over the head of Central goalie Antonio Tarin.
The Tigers kept the momentum in the second half and tied the game 2-2 in the 52th minute when Marcel Mavangulu took a pass inside the box and shot it past Tarin.
Rhodes’ winning goal came eight minutes later.
Grand Junction had several scoring chances late in the game, including an open look by Mavangulu in the 47th minute, but the Tigers were stopped by Tarin, who finished the game with six saves.
“Tony’s stepping up,” Rhodes said. “He’s winning some games and that’s really good for a young goalie.
“He’s only been playing goalie for three years and the more he plays, the better he gets.”
Bonin finished with eight saves for the Tigers.
Beach credited part of the win to the atmosphere of the stadium, which included student sections for each school, and cheerleaders from Central who cheered throughout the game.
“Those cheerleaders, I can’t believe how they pumped up our team,” Beach said. “I’m going to have to personally thank them tomorrow.”