Wildcats, Bulldogs host first-round soccer games
The single-digit seed the Fruita Monument High School girls soccer team earned early this season stayed with the Wildcats all the way into the Class 5A state playoffs.
Fruita (11-3) will be the No. 6 seed in the Class 5A state playoffs this week, guaranteeing the Wildcats a first- and possible second-round home game in the postseason. They’ll open the postseason at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Walker Field against Heritage (6-8-1), with the winner advancing to play either 11th-seeded Legacy (13-2) or No. 22 Smoky Hill (8-6-1).
The Wildcats finished tied with Durango atop the Southwestern League standings, but the Demons won the league title in a tiebreaker.
Still, Fruita is making its second consecutive state-playoff appearance under third-year coach Alex Garza, whose first team three years ago went 6-8-1.
“This feels really good,” Garza said. “I’ve gotten a lot of congratulatory texts and phone calls from a lot of people in the valley who said they don’t remember a team from here ever being a No. 6 seed.
“But I told the girls at the end of the (Grand Junction game, a 5-0 Fruita win) on Saturday, ‘Hey, congratulations on a great regular season. But the playoffs is what you work for. This is where the fun begins.’ “
Grand Junction (8-7) also gets to take part in the fun. The Tigers got into the 32-team postseason bracket as the 30th seed and will play at third-seeded Mountain Vista on Tuesday. Durango (11-4) got into the Class 4A state tournament as a No. 9 seed and hosts Canon City (11-3-1) in the first round Wednesday.
Palisade (13-2) the 4A Western Slope League champion, also got a first-round home game. The 10th-seeded Bulldogs will host 23rd-seeded Standley Lake (7-7-1), with the winner advancing to play either Evergreen or Discovery Canyon on Saturday.
Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Walker Field. It’s the second consecutive year the Bulldogs have hosted a first-round playoff game.
Palisade has also had a good run of success the past two seasons. Under second-year coach Tim Hofer, the Bulldogs are 25-6 after going 8-7 in Raina Sorenson’s final season as head coach in 2015.
Other 4A Western Slope schools in the playoffs are Glenwood Springs, which hosts Pueblo Centennial in the first round, and Eagle Valley, which plays its first-round game at 11th-seeded Cheyenne Mountain.