Tied up on the soccer field: Central, GJ play to a draw

Grand Junction High School’s Stephanie Drake takes the ball down the field as Central’s Sara Thomas defends during teh first half of Thursday’s game at Walker Field. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.

The Central and Grand Junction high school girls soccer teams seem destined to play close games.

The cross-town rivals hooked up in another one on Thursday to open their respective Southwestern League seasons and neither team could gain the upper hand in the first meeting.

Central scored in the 79th minute of regulation to force overtime, but the teams played to a 1-1 stalemate at Mesa State College’s Walker Field.

Central (3-0-1, 0-0-1 SWL) defeated the Tigers 2-1 and 2-0 in their two league games last season, so Thursday’s outcome between two teams with a number of returning starters was no surprise.

“A lot of us know the (Grand Junction) players from club (soccer),” said Central’s Ashley Paul, who scored the tying goal.

“They won the first half, we won the second half,” Central coach Douglas Beach said of his first encounter between the two teams.

Grand Junction (3-2-1, 0-0-1) dominated the first half, outshooting the Warriors 11-2. It wasn’t until the 27th minute that the Tigers got on the board, however.

Victoria Rentie got past a defender who had slipped and looped in a shot from 20 yards out into the upper left-hand corner to break the scoreless tie.

“We didn’t come out fighting like we should have,” Beach said.

The Warriors fought in the second half, where the shot count was more even, but didn’t have anything to show for it on the scoreboard.

“We had talked about doing lots of free balls,” Paul said. “We tried it early and it didn’t work.”

It finally worked late when Haleigh Higgins sent a pass forward to Paul, who drilled a low shot into the goal with barely a minute remaining in regulation.

Seven minutes prior to that, Central goalkeeper Savannah Moore made two saves from point-blank range.

“It ignited our team,” Beach said.

Grand Junction coach Adrea Tilford was frustrated her team couldn’t put the game away.

“We need to learn when we’re up in the game, it’s not over,” said Tilford, whose team has only one senior.

Although it wasn’t a loss, Tilford said the Tigers aren’t taking any consolation in a tie.

“I don’t think we’re satisfied with that,” she said.

Central has eight days before its next game, when it travels to the Four Corners area.

“We’ve got some things to work on,” Beach said. “We still need to work on developing spaces.”

Grand Junction plays Montrose next Tuesday at Walker Field.

Rifle 3, Palisade 2:

The Bulldogs (1-1, 1-1 Western Slope League) took a 2-0 lead but couldn’t hold on as the Bears scored three goals in a nine-minute span midway through the game to take the victory in Rifle.

Freshman Flannery Davis scored both Palisade goals in the first 25 minutes.

Rifle came back with goals by Caitlin Clay and Mikaela Conde just before the half, then got the game winner from Clay four minutes into the second half.

The Bulldogs are home Tuesday against Moffat County.


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