Trend in winning: Girls soccer team latest successful Fruita Monument squad
Fruita Monument High School has had success turning struggling sports programs around.
The boys basketball team went from a 1-9 season in the Southwestern League in 2008 to putting together 20 consecutive league wins.
Also within the past school year, the girls basketball team won a home playoff game for the first time in more than 10 years and the volleyball team turned an 8-12 record in 2009 into an 18-4 season.
The latest team to have a turnaround is the Wildcats’ girls soccer program.
Fruita Monument has gone from one win each of the past two seasons to 9-4-2 to clinch a spot in the Class 5A playoffs heading into tonight’s regular season finale with Grand Junction at 7 p.m.
The big difference this season is the Wildcats brought in a young coach in 24-year-old Eric Anderson, who’s gotten his players to believe in his philosophies.
“We gave them structure,” Anderson said. “We didn’t really gain many new players in the varsity program, but we have them play the game simple and they’ve come in every day wanting to get better.”
Anderson knew the difference to this season was improving the Wildcats’ defense, and said the Wildcats spent the first two weeks of practice working on defense.
“It’s not a joke when they say defense wins games,” Anderson said. “Yes, you have to score more than the other team, but if you play good defense the other team can’t score.”
This season the Wildcats haven’t allowed more than three goals in a game, giving up only 12 goals all season, and posting eight shutouts.
“We have players who aren’t afraid to get in there,” Anderson said. “They’ll go up against bigger players and keep fighting.”
Fruita Monument has a mixture of experience on defense, including seniors Olivia Daniels and Maddie Golike paired with freshman Katie Werman and sophomore goalie Kylie Goetz.
“We really have a lot of players that can play back,” Anderson said. “We are pretty deep on defense if we need to be.”
The Wildcats’ offense also has drastically improved this season. Fruita Monument scored as many goals in its first game against Rampart, a 2-0 win, as it did the entire 2010 season.
Fruita Monument has scored 25 goals this season, including a team-high seven by sophomore Megan Hale.
“On the field we have a flow that we’ve never had before,” Wildcats senior midfielder Jesse Siddeek said. “We aren’t afraid to take risks, and it’s paid off.”
The Wildcats are second in the SWL and have clinched one of the two postseason spots guaranteed to the league. Fruita Monument has an opportunity to improve its seeding with a win against Grand Junction.
The Tigers defeated Fruita Monument 2-0 in the first game between the two teams on April 5.
“We are super stoked just to be in second place,” Anderson said. “To go from one win last year to now 9-4, we are happy. But they’ll go out and give it their all against Grand Junction, and they are ready to play them.”