Bears tripped up by Bulldogs at home
The Palisade Bulldogs, led by the ball-handling and passing of talented senior captain Emma Mueller, scored early and often en route to a convincing 10-0 victory over the Rifle Bears on Thursday afternoon at Rifle High School.
Rifle senior goal keeper Laci Sjogren was put under siege from the opening whistle by the aggressive Palisade offensive attack. It was the first time Sjogren had been in the varsity goal since her sophomore year, and it was a trial by fire against one of the best teams on the Western Slope.
“I was nervous, but I tried to stay confident,” Sjogren said. “They’re a very good team.”
Good indeed. With Mueller maneuvering the ball nicely to fellow Bulldogs deep in Rifle territory, Palisade was able to mount a quick 2-0 lead on goals from a pair of juniors, Sami Feller and Christina Chatfield. Mueller got into the scoring act just minutes later as she took a feed from midfielder Maya Hilty at the 25:14 mark of the half and put a laser into the back of the Rifle net to make the margin 3-0.
With the game being played almost entirely on the Bears’ side of the field, Palisade continued its onslaught as senior Kaylin Casto controlled the ball on the dribble from near midfield and slipped a shot past Sjogren into the left corner of the goal. Junior forward Kiawa Miller added a couple more Bulldog goals prior to the intermission, as the scoreboard read 9-0 in favor of Palisade at the break.
Despite the large deficit at the halfway point of the game, Rifle senior Adamarys Nagaya continued to try and rally her fellow Bears to keep battling and working hard.
“I just try to keep talking and encouraging people,” Nagaya said. “Just talk, talk, talk, and try to keep everyone’s spirits up.”
There was no quit in the Bears to start the second half as Palisade came out in a more deliberate offensive set, passing relentlessly across the field to try and set up the game winning mercy rule score. That deciding goal came at the 33:46 point of the second half as junior Chantelle Bouska put the ball in the Rifle net, and the game at 10-0, ending the contest at that point.
Rifle Head Coach Lisle Harrison knew going in what his team was up against in facing Western Slope League leader Palisade.
“We know we are going to face challenges in this 4A league. We’re just slowly trying to improve and meet those challenges,” Harrison said.
The Bears (0-3 overall, 0-2 WSL) will travel to Parachute this Saturday to face the Grand Valley Cardinals. It’s a game in which Harrison hopes his team will show continued improvement as they look for their first victory of 2017.
“We’ll approach every game the same way no matter who we are playing,” Harrison said. “We need to be ready mentally to play the entire game.”
WSL front-runner Palisade now moves to 3-0 overall for the season and sports an identical 3-0 record in conference play.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.