Tigers soccer team battles, but falls to Montrose

Thursday at Canyon View Park, Montrose boys soccer coach Jim Pavlich saw the Grand Junction team he expected to see, not the one he saw in Montrose’s 8-0 win on Sept. 24.

For the Tigers, having coach Stephen Latta and star forward Josh Murdock back didn’t hurt either.

Grand Junction gave Montrose all it could handle, but ultimately the Indians won 2-1 behind two second-half goals from Brayden Reese.

Murdock was out with a concussion and Latta was absent the last time the Indians
(9-4-1, 7-1-1 Southwestern League) and Tigers played. Latta made a point to minimize his game-day management, so Grand Junction (5-8, 4-5 SWL) would have confidence in its abilities, even without his help.

“I let them know that my influence should be high during the week leading up to a game, but at game time that it’s their work ethic and their intelligence that should be the strong points,” Latta said. “My influence should be about five percent during the game, as opposed to 95 percent during the week.

“Really, it comes down to how they attack things mentally. If they go down one, like they did today, do they have the mentality to stayed focused? If we go up a goal, we need to stay mentally focused.”

Reese scored his first goal less than a minute into the second half when he found space on the left wing and curled a low shot into the right side of the net. Roughly four minutes later, Grand Junction forward Marcel Mavangulu found Murdock on a well-timed through ball, which Murdock shot into the bottom left corner.

The tie was short-lived. Reese scored a second goal nearly identical to his first. He took the ball up the left wing and buried it only a couple feet higher than his first goal.

“I’m really excited about my midfield right now,” Pavlich said. “As we’ve moved forward with the season, they’ve really come together.”

Pavlich said his midfield has matured through the years and become accustomed to playing different variations of the same formation.

Pavlich runs a 3-4-3 formation, but to start the game against Grand Junction it looked like a 3-4-1-2, with five midfielders. As the game progressed, it looked more like a 4-3-3, and the variation in formation limited Grand Junction’s ability to create shots. The Indians outshot the Tigers 22-4 and controlled possession in the middle and attacking thirds of the field.

“I don’t really think possession in your back half is quality possession,” Pavlich said. “It’s not quality possession unless you’re controlling the ball in the middle third and attacking third. We want our midfield to focus on that, and they do. You can see a number of different guys playing forward.”

But Tiger goalie Michael Hansen continued to emerge as a late-season star, picking up 20 saves, including stuffing a second-half penalty kick.

Hansen also stretched out on multiple occasions to make saves and keep Grand Junction in the game.

Saturday, the Tigers will face Class 3A’s fourth-ranked team, Coal Ridge, before closing the season against Central next week. Grand Junction will have to contain Coal Ridge forward Edgar Enriquez, who is sixth in 3A in goals and was selected to the Denver Post’s All-Colorado team as a junior.


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