Bears net win in league opener
GSPI Sports Editor
RIFLE ” With just a pair of seniors on the roster, the freshmen and sophomores will need to step up for the Rifle girls soccer team this season.
And, if their league opener was any indication, it doesn’t look like it will be a problem.
Freshman Tess Flanagan and sophomore Brenda Cruz each scored as the Bears downed Class 4A Western Slope League foe Delta County 2-0 Thursday afternoon.
“For the first league game with such a young team, getting the home win was nice,” Rifle coach Tom Taucher said. “They worked really hard and deserved it.”
The Bears also worked through a slow start to the game. Neither team registered a shot on goal until Rifle sophomore Tara Jorgenson took a shot off the right wing 14 minutes into the contest.
“There were some nerves and I think we sort of played through them,” Taucher said. “Some of the freshmen took some pretty good licks and it snapped them out of it.”
Flanagan was one of those players who took a lick early in the game.
She got some payback in the closing minutes of the first half by scoring the first goal of her high school career, taking a partial breakaway down the right wing and putting the ball over the charging Delta keeper for a 1-0 advantage.
“It was awesome,” Flanagan said of her first high school tally. “It was the best feeling ever.”
With a one-goal lead, the Bears seemed to loosen up and Delta County, with just three subs on the bench, began slowing down.
The Bears, who had just three shots on goal in the first half, racked up seven in the second half and dominated the territorial battle.
“Toward the end we started getting more aggressive and playing together more,” Flanagan said.
“In the second half we were really winning the 50-50 balls,” Taucher added. “I was really pleased with the work ethic in the second half.”
The work paid off with 10 minutes remaining when freshman Chelsey Nepp dished to sophomore Sandy Cruz in traffic. Cruz netted the opportunity for a 2-0 advantage.
“Sandy and Tess both finished (their chances) … so that was real nice,” Taucher said.
The Rifle defense, anchored by senior captain Anna Peterson, was solid throughout. The Bears allowed just six shots on freshman goalie Kadie LaRocue for the shutout. Taucher also credited Peterson’s quick transition play at the midfield with setting up Flanagan’s goal.
Rifle improves to 1-0 in the Class 4A Western Slope League and hosts another league game Saturday against Palisade at 11 a.m.
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This game. This rivalry. This season. It hasn’t meant this much in a long time.