TAKING CHANCES

Sanchez's goal in double-OT lifts Tigers to win

Grand Junction’s Abram Sanchez battles for possession with Durango’s Arilson Reyes in the second overtime of Saturday’s game at Canyon View Park. A few minutes later, Sanchez scored the game-winning goal in the Tigers’ 1-0 Southwestern League victory.



So many chances, but nothing to show for it except frustration.

Then, all that frustration vanished with the suddenness of a bolt of lightning.

Late in the second overtime Saturday, with Grand Junction and Durango in a scoreless tie, the end came quickly.

It started with the same flow as many of the Tigers’ scoring chances earlier in the game.

Jake Chaffetz popped a pass to the left side to Josiah Kogar, who glanced into the box and spotted Abram Sanchez. Kogar made the pass, and Sanchez did the rest.

The Grand Junction senior settled the ball, gained some space from the defender who was draped on his left shoulder, then stepped and rifled a shot into the net.

Game over at 1-0. And with the frustration over, a frenzied celebration began.

Sanchez gave a chuckle about his winning goal.

“It’s such a rush, I barely remember it,” he said. “You just try to keep the ball away from the defender, turn and shoot, and say a Hail Mary, and hope it ends up in the back of the net. It’s the most exhilarating feeling, then you get to celebrate with your team.”

The game at Canyon View Park was for the lead in the Southwestern League standings, with Durango looking for its fourth straight league title.

The double-overtime victory ended four years of frustration for the Grand Junction seniors.

“It’s hard to watch because you know how hard these boys are working,” Grand Junction coach Jonathan Pando said. “You could just see it, they really wanted it. The seniors have never beaten Durango in their four years.”

Grand Junction controlled possession for large stretches of the game, with numerous chances to score.

“It’s really frustrating when you know you could have done it in 80 minutes but it took 100-and-some minutes, but we kept going and stayed in the game,” Sanchez said. “We knew we’d keep getting those chances, and we knew at some point the ball would end up in the back of the net. We never lost hope.”

Over the past three years, Durango went 5-0-1 against the Tigers, including a double-overtime win last year.

The Tigers (7-1, 2-0 SWL) had a number of close free-kick opportunities in the second half and a penalty kick from Chaffetz, but the Durango goalkeeper, Trey Furnas, was up to the task every time.

Sanchez had a couple of chances, as did Garrison Corn, and Kogar made a good run, making a great centering pass that zipped across the front of the net late in regulation. Shortly before the end of regulation, Sanchez had a free kick that went wide, then he had another free kick just outside the box that slammed into the Durango player wall.

That set up a corner kick that Jose Ramirez headed just over the crossbar for Grand Junction.

A few chances came for the Tigers in the first OT, the best coming off a corner kick from Corn that was gabbed by Furnas.

Durango (6-1, 2-1 SWL) is still very much in the league title hunt, and Pando knows that.

“Huge respect to Durango, they are a strong team. This is a big step toward (the SWL championship) for us, but we have a lot of games to come,” Pando said.

The rematch with the Demons on their home field will be on Oct. 7.

“It’s always a very, very interesting game down there, but I think we have a chance this year,” Sanchez said.

Dominating possession against Durango was similar to what the Tigers have done much of the season.

“This year, we’ve been focusing predominately on our possession, swinging the ball back and forth, making the other team work instead of us having to working, then pick our moments and attack,” Sanchez said.


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