Bears close out league slate with a shutout
RIFLE – The Rifle Bears notched their fourth shutout of the season Thursday afternoon, but goalkeeper Derek Roberts didn’t have to work too hard to earn this one.
Roberts had one save and only touched the ball a handful of times against Steamboat Springs as the Bears downed the Sailors 1-0 in a Class 4A Western Slope League contest that was more lopsided than the score indicates.”I like a little action,” Roberts said. “But the defense did a real good job. A shutout is a shutout.”The Bears’ fourth shutout of the season secured third place in the league for Rifle (7-3-2 WSL, 8-4-2 overall). Steamboat dropped to 2-7-1 (2-9-1).After a number of missed opportunities and action almost exclusively in Steamboat’s end of the field, Rifle’s Bryan Cloninger finally broke through with a rebound goal in the 66th minute of play.”The way Bryan has been playing up top, it doesn’t surprise me that he was the one,” Rifle coach Tom Taucher said.
“Bryan has scored pretty goals and he’s scored 50-50 goals,” Taucher added. “He plays so simply and so well when he’s on.”Cloninger’s game-winner was not a pretty goal, but it fit with the physical nature of the contest. Seth Martin put a nice cross in the box that Sean Melody shot on net. Steamboat goalie Jordan Gray, who replaced starter Bjorn Lickteig after an injury in warmups, was there for the initial save, but a crashing Cloninger stuffed the ball home before Gray could gain control.”The keeper fumbled it, so the ball was loose for a second and I just hit it in,” Cloninger said.The collision with Cloninger knocked Gray out of the game, and the Rifle defense showed no signs of breaking down after the goal.
Steamboat’s strategy of playing a defensive game and trying to steal a win did keep the game tight, but the Sailors never mounted a serious scoring threat in the contest.”Rifle does well with its high-pressure defending and intensity,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “There were very few times we linked more than three or four passes together.”The Bears dominated Steamboat in the air, controlling 50-50 balls and clearing the defensive end quickly.”Eric Simms and Adam Krick were winning the middle of the field, and when they win the middle of the field it takes the pressure off the defense,” Taucher said.Rifle wraps up its regular season with a nonleague game against Delta Saturday at Rifle High School.Rifle wraps up its regular season with a nonleague game against Delta Saturday at Rifle High School.
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.