Weathering a win
Montrose handles wet field better in playoff victory over Palisade
MONTROSE — Rain poured Tuesday evening and made the field a slippery mess. Balls skipped and bounced across the slick surface and both teams struggled to maintain possession.
Montrose girls soccer coach Jaime Gurule expected every possession would be crucial in the Indians’ Class 4A state playoff against Palisade, but the weather required a second level of attention from a team already focused on possession.
So, with four shots on goal, Montrose converted every on-net opportunity to top Palisade 4-0 to advance to a second-round playoff game Friday.
Stephanie Rowan managed to stay on her feet after nearly slipping mid-juke to put Montrose up 1-0 only 10 minutes into the contest.
She notched her second goal later in the first half when she bombed in a looping shot just under the crossbar.
From there, the Indians carried the momentum.
“These guys weren’t going to back down from anyone,” Gurule said. “I told them we have to score early, apply pressure, and possess the ball when it’s wet like this.
“There were a few times where Palisade moved the ball, and they looked scary, but mainly we were possessing, and getting the first two goals was huge. We were trying to be patient, but it was hard in this game.”
Montrose benefited from the sloppy weather with its final two goals. Palisade goalkeeper Katie Dunn couldn’t handle a long, arcing shot from Shae Peterson, and the wet ball slid right between her gloves and into the goal.
The final goal for the Indians came from a lucky skip on the wet surface that left the ball in front of an open net for Chandler Madison to tap in.
The two squads combined for only six shots on net, and although Montrose spent the majority of the game possessing the ball, Palisade did build some opportunities on the wings.
The Bulldogs had one legitimate scoring opportunity with 10 minutes remaining, where they swung the ball from left to right in the box. Despite never fully gaining control, a pass pinballed around the penalty box before squeaking just wide, past the right post.
Palisade notched two shots on goal and five shots total.
Bulldogs coach Raina Sorensen said she was disappointed about the final two games of the season, both big-game losses.
“This season was great up until the very end,” Sorensen said. “You know, the last two games, especially this one, we didn’t show up to play. We didn’t show up believing we could win. We didn’t show up with fight. It’s really hard because the whole season we had that, and to give it up in the last two games is frustrating.”
Montrose moves on to a second-round matchup with seventh-seeded Mullen. The Mustangs have one 4A state title and two championship-game appearances in the past six years.
“We’re really going to have to gear up for Mullen,” Gurule said. “It’s going to be another high-pressure game. It will be a huge task for us, but I think we’ll go to work tomorrow and we’ll be ready for them. We just have to possess and make sure we’re playing our game.”