Bears hold on for a tie in OT |

Bears hold on for a tie in OT

Phil Sandoval
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Phil Sandoval Free Press

PALISADE ” Considering all the negatives Rifle took into Thursday’s Class 4A Western Slope League opening girls soccer game at Palisade, the benefits outweigh the rough spots.

“Generally, we’re feeling pretty good. I think we learned a lot where our strengths are and what we need to work on,” said Bears head coach Mark Knighten of the 2-2 double overtime tie, where Rifle saw a 2-0 first half lead erased by the Bulldogs.

“We were tired at the end and we stopped playing our game a little bit,” Knighten added. “But overall, there was way more positives than negatives. Getting a tie on the road is not as good as a win. But, we’ll take it.”

Knighten also felt good about receiving veteran-like performances from newcomers Abby Schmidt, Ciara Euler and Courtney Cordova in their first taste of varsity play.

“I tell you what, she played beautifully,” Knighten said of Schmidt, who has replaced multi-time, all-league keeper Kadie LaRouque.

“She made some plays a four-year starter I’m not sure would have made. She managed her box well. She communicated well. She made the saves she had to make. I’m extremely pleased with how Abby played.”

Schmidt stopped 5 of 7 shots on goal.

Her best came in the early minutes of the first overtime period when the senior got just enough of the ball to halt Lindsay Yeates’ ground-hugger without harm.

Euler, a freshman, netted the game’s first goal when she raced down the left side unmarked for a shot that beat Bulldogs goalie Amelia Davis to the near post, midway in the half.

Caitlin Clay upped the Bears’ lead to 2-0 with an unassisted goal with about eight minutes left in the period.

“We’re very young and very inexperienced. All things considered, they were finding out what a high school game’s all about. It’s a lot different than a U-14 game.” Knighten pointed out.

More than half of Rifle’s varsity is freshmen and sophomores.

In the second half, the Bears’ inexperience and lack of stamina caught up with them.

Lindsay Yeates broke inside the 18-yard box for a goal. Anna Thiesing drove a shot past a maze of Rifle and Palisade defenders for the tie in the 63rd minute.

Pressed into overtime after 17 minutes of frustration, Yeates came within a whisker of scoring the game-winner a couple of moments into the extra frame. And Palisade had another strong offense build in the second overtime period that Euler cleared to maintain the tie.

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