Roaring Fork tops Rifle to kick off season
Behind a formidable offensive attack and a controlling midfield effort, the Roaring Fork Rams’ boys soccer team got the 2016 season off to a positive start with a 4-2 win, Tuesday, on the road against the Rifle Bears at Rifle High School.
Senior forward Lorenzo Andrade netted a hat trick in his return to soccer after missing the 2015 season with an injury, while sophomore Aidan Sloan added the other goal for the Rams in the win.
“I see a lot of real positives with this offense,” Roaring Fork Head Coach Nick Forbes said. “The whole 11 is comfortable with the ball at their feet, which allows us to work the ball forward, backward all the way to the goalie before working it out wide, which plays right into our gameplan. The boys put in a lot of work this offseason with conditioning and it showed early on.”
To start the game, the Rams’ attack controlled the tempo early as Andrade got behind the Bears’ back line quickly, while junior Marco Ramos and sophomore Ronald Clemente applied pressure from the wings.
Due to the high-tempo attack early on, the Rams were able to force a corner kick that Ramos and Clemente both got headers on, but Rifle’s junior goalkeeper, Caleb Opstein, came up with a big save along the goal line to keep the game scoreless.
Not to be outworked to start the game, the Bears countered quickly as sophomore Diego Suarez pushed the ball up the right win before drawing a call against the Rams, setting up a free kick from Rifle senior captain Alexis Ramos that sailed just wide of the goal.
Shortly after Ramos’ free kick sailed wide, Sloan gathered the ball about 30 yards away from the Bears’ goal and fired a shot that sailed towards the upper left-hand corner of the net, tipping off of an outstretched mitt of Opstein and into the goal for Roaring Fork’s first goal of the season, giving the Rams a 1-0 advantage early in the first half.
The Rams would strike again quickly as Andrade made a strong run down the middle of the pitch before firing a shot on goal that Opstein deflected away.
Unfortunately for Rifle, the save found the foot of Andrade who slotted home his second shot, giving the Rams a 2-0 lead.
But much like they did all night, the Bears battled back and cut the Roaring Fork lead in half as freshman Esteban Espino punched home a short cross in the box past the diving Roaring Fork keeper to make it 2-1, Rams midway through the first half.
Roaring Fork quickly responded though as Andrade netted two quick goals to cap off the hat-trick and the scoring on the evening for the Rams thanks to two great through balls from sophomore midfielder Joe Salinas that put Andrade way out in front of the Rifle back line, giving him a one-on-one opportunity against the Rifle goalkeeper.
“I knew what he [Andrade] had at his disposal,” Forbes said. “He’s a very good offensive player, so I was hoping he wasn’t too rusty from missing last year. As for Joe, he’s just a beast. He’s so good in the middle of the field and I think I would give him Man of the Match because of the way he moved the ball around and set us up offensively. He’s a big part of what we do.”
Holding a 4-1 lead at the half, the Rams seemed to ease up early in the second half as the Bears controlled the ball for much of the half. Unfortunately for Rifle, they couldn’t come away with anything to show for it on the scoreboard early on in the second half.
A strong run down the right sideline by freshman Mayro Hernandez set up a great shot on goal by senior Jose Quinones, but the Roaring Fork goalkeeper turned it away, bailing out his defense which was lax on the play.
A few minutes later the Rams seemed to find a spark as Sloan made a strong run down the middle before firing a shot on goal that freshman goalkeeper Isaac Rivas stopped, deflecting it just off the post and out of play, setting up a corner for the Rams.
With nothing coming from the corner kick, the Rams again seemed to relax defensively just as the Bears went all out, turning up the pressure offensively, resulting in a penalty in the box drawn by sophomore Edgar Jaimes.
Ramos was able to slam home the penalty to cut the Roaring Fork lead in half, but that would be all the Bears could muster to close the game.
“I thought our performance overall was great,” Rifle first-year Head Coach David Romero said. “The guys have worked hard and playing with heart. That’s all we’re asking for this season is to play with heart, learn the basics and bring that effort every night.
“We saw that out of a lot of guys tonight, and I think that was pretty cool to see the young guys stepping up for us.”
Roaring Fork (1-0) will host Moffat County, Saturday, while Rifle (0-1) will host Eagle Valley, Thursday.
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