Depth has been the one constant for the Fruita Monument High School girls soccer team this season.
The Wildcats' deep roster was on full display Thursday night in a 2-0 win over Grand Junction at Walker Field.
Center midfielder Katie Smith had missed the three previous games with an injury, but returned against the Tigers (10-4-1, 4-3-1 Southwestern League). She launched a long shot in the third minute of the game that settled in the right side of the net and gave the Wildcats (12-3, 8-0) an early lead.
Fruita Monument coach Alex Garza said his team struggled a bit after the initial goal, but the score still provided a surge of energy.
"(Smith) hit a banger, for sure, as the girls were calling it," Garza said. "It electrified us a lot. Unfortunately, after that we couldn't maintain it. But things got much, much better in the second half. We were possessing really well, we were just missing that final ball to put us in behind (the defense). It was encouraging to see that in the second half after we were a little sluggish after Katie's initial strike."
Smith's return to the lineup gave the Wildcats another capable midfielder and the senior has been an anchor in the middle of Fruita's formation.
Other pieces of depth shone through in the second half, as backup goalkeeper Madison Wimmer was solid throughout. She filled in for senior Peyton Drake, who received a red card against Durango last week.
There was freshman Hannah Kuta, who scored her third goal of the season in the second half. When the ball squirted into the box on a deflection, Kuta chased after it and buried her shot low and hard to the left side. She rotated on and off the field as one of the numerous substitutions made in the second half.
With the win over their rival, Garza said 12 wins sets a school record for the season. Now, he wants to see the Wildcats win a playoff game for the first time since 2005, when Fruita Monument topped Douglas County 3-1 in the first round.
Currently, Fruita Monument sits at No. 9 in the Class 5A RPI standings and will likely host a first-round playoff game.
"It's all eyes on the playoffs," Garza said.
Battle Mountain 3, Palisade 2, 2OT: Dominique Dexter scored after Lexi Newton's corner kick with two minutes remaining to force overtime, but the Bulldogs (8-5-2, 8-4 4A Western Slope League) fell to the Huskies (10-3-1, 10-2).
Battle Mountain took an early lead on a goal in the fourth minute before Christina Chatfield equalized 15 minutes later. It was her first goal of the season. The Huskies regained the lead in the 24th minute and maintained it until the final two minutes of the game.
It was the fourth overtime game of the season for Palisade.