Bears closer to playoffs |

Bears closer to playoffs

Grand Junction Free Press/Greg ReedRifles Chelsey Nepp splits a pair of Palisade defenders during the Bears 3-1 victory over the Bulldogs.

PALISADE – The idea hasn’t come up on the sidelines yet, but Rifle looks more and more like a team bound for the girls Class 4A state playoffs in a couple of weeks.First-half goals by Rifle’s Lauren Schubert and Mindy Gonzales were too much for host Palisade to overcome in Tuesday’s league match, as the Bears cruised to a 3-1 win, adding on to their lead when forward Marcy Kreimier scored early in the second half.With the victory Rifle (6-3-1 Western Slope League, 6-4-1 overall) remains in third place, one game ahead of Delta County (5-4-1 WSL), which, in the overall scheme of things, is important.The third place team at the end of the league season earns a playoff berth. Anything below that cutoff point is done for the year.While the win aided the Bears playoff chances, it doesn’t change the approach Rifle’s taken the entire year.”We played one game at a time. We didn’t consider Delta. Palisade was the team on the table, and that’s who we were going for,” said assistant coach Jenny LaBaw.LaBaw, along with fellow assistant Mark Knighten, assumed control of the team due to head coach Tom Taucher’s absence due a newborn child.Bears goalie Kadie LaRocque survived an early test from Palisade by making a pair of back-to-back saves early in the first half to keep the game scoreless.After making a diving save toward the far post on Kirstee Bunting, who eventually scored Palisade’s lone goal, the Rifle keeper immediately popped right back up for a second stop on Bunting a play later.LaRocque’s saves sparked the Bear offense into action.Seconds afterwards, Lauren Schubert knocked in a rebound off Palisade goalie Megan Bosch to the near post.”That was a great goal, and it was huge,” said LaBaw. “It was perfect. It was easily played. It maintained our momentum, and it kept the girls’ heads up.”After Schubert’s goal, sophomore Chelsea Webb missed adding to Rifle’s lead twice when Bosch held her ground on both drives. Later in the half, Bosch turned away Kreimier by winning a battle with the ball on a last-ditch dive to the far corner. Gonzales punched her goal through the same spot two minutes later.Kreimier’s earlier work was rewarded in the second half when she scored off a Webb pass in the 54th minute.

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