After holding onto a one-goal lead for most of the second half, for a second, it seemed like an unlucky break allowed the Wildcats to tie up the match against the Indians.
Fruita Monument had a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box with about five minutes left in the match. This came after Montrose High School goalie Greg Sheya committed a delay of game penalty by holding onto the ball for more than six seconds
The Wildcats had an indirect kick, meaning someone besides the kick-taker has to touch the ball before it can be shot at goal. But they shot at goal anyway, and after the score went into the back of the net the visiting team celebrated tying it up, while Montrose looked defeated.
However, the goal was called off, and the Indians (6-5; 3-1 in Southwestern League) held onto a 2-1 win over the Wildcats (6-4; 2-2 in SWL) at home.
“We need some luck on our side and we needed this win,” coach Cassie Snyder said. “It was a tough win, and I’m proud of my team pulling it off.”
Senior Alan Vanchiak added he and his teammates are feeling confident after the match, considering they went up against an opponent that likes to push and pass the ball over the top.
“(Fruita) is very tall and physical,” he said. “And if we can compete against a team like that, then we should be good.”
This happened in a match where the Montrose defense stonewalled a Fruita offensive attack the entire second half.
The Wildcats maintained possession for most of the second half and had the ball deep in Indians territory on several occasions. Regardless, Montrose’s D held and pitched a shutout in the last 40 minutes.
Sheya helped the Indians get the scoreless second half as he finished with eight saves on the day.
“I just can’t say how tough my defenders are,” Snyder said. “.. They’re just a rock for us in the back.”
Meanwhile, the hosts’ offense struggled in the second half and they had very few looks at the goal. Snyder said the team’s youth showed as it played with nerves in the latter part of the game.
“I would like to see some more offense in the second half but it’s a growing point,” she said.
Montrose did strike early as Sean Alex headed a ball in from the 18’ yard box thanks to an assist by Jorge Baeza.
Fruita later hit the equalizer at the 20-minute mark.
But right before halftime, Aiden Harrel sent in a pass to teammate Robert Ramirez, who struck in the game-deciding goal.
This contest was much more than a confidence booster for a team that has had a few unlucky breaks in the last few weeks.
With the win, Montrose has the same league record as Durango, which lost to this same Fruita squad a couple of days ago. The Indians previously lost 4-3 against the Demons on Sept. 25.
“This game is really important because we have a chance to win league,” Vanchiak said.
Up next, Montrose will have a few days rest before a rematch with Fruita on the road. The Indians will play the Wildcats at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 10.
That extra time off will be key for Montrose, said Snyder.
“We get a long break down so everybody can recover,” she said.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.