Demons top Bears in fast-paced 4A affair
In a fast-paced game featuring plenty of scoring chances for both the Glenwood Springs Demons and the Rifle Bears Tuesday at Stubler Memorial Field, the Demons did just enough for a 3-0 win over the visiting Bears in an entertaining 4A Western Slope League match.
The Demons received first half goals from Michael Willis, Miguel “Papas” Peralta and Mitchell Burt in the first half, which proved to be the final margin of victory for the host Demons.
“I like the fact that we had different goal scorers,” Glenwood Head Coach Wayne Smith said. “I like that Mikey Willis got his first goal of the season while playing some striker for us. He’s just improved so much. But I think their goalkeeper did a great job tonight. He was really tough and made some great saves, so hats off to him.”
Early on following kick-off, Rifle seemed to control play near midfield as Esteban Espino found some room in the Glenwood half of the field to fire a terrific strike on net that Glenwood goalkeeper Jonny Hernandez had to leap high for to punch it over the crossbar to keep the game tied at 0-0 early.
Following Espino’s great strike, the Demons were able to counter as Peralta made a great run down the middle of the pitch through the Rifle back line before Rifle freshman goalkeeper Alexis Lopez Jimenez made a great save to preserve the tie — at least for the time being.
With Lopez Jimenez standing tall in net, the Bears had a fighting chance against an experienced Glenwood club, but Willis was able to break the tie with a terrific run down the right side of the pitch before slotting the ball home past a diving Jimenez to make it 1-0 Glenwood at the 28:10 mark.
Glenwood continued to attack Jimenez and the Rifle back line before Peralta was able to cash in a great chance in the box to make it 2-0 Demons.
Off of a run by Glenwood’s Sebastian Torres, Peralta was able to carve out space in the box where Torres’ pass found his right boot, allowing the standout senior striker to maneuver around the Rifle defender before beating Jimenez low to the right for Glenwood’s second score of the game.
From there, that’s where Burt — a standout freshman — took over on the wing for the Demons. Burt made a great run through the heart of the Bears’ defense before firing a shot just over the crossbar on what would have been a beautiful strike before then coming right back seconds later on another good run down the middle of the field to close in alone on Lopez Jimenez in the box. Unfortunately Burt’s shot trickled just wide left of the post.
But not to be outdone, Burt answered right back just over a minute later off of a great run down the left wing before cutting into the middle of Rifle’s defense to fire a shot low to the right of Jimenez for the third and final goal of the game.
“Mitchell’s a fantastic player,” Smith said. “When we moved him up to varsity we knew what he could do for us. He’s really talented and can play wing-mid, defense, whatever we need. He’s a smart player and will only get better from here. I wasn’t surprised by his performance at all.”
Holding a 3-0 lead at the half, the Demons looked to add on but the young Bears stood tall in the second half led by Jimenez and fellow freshman Daniel Molina on the back line.
Jimenez made some terrific saves in the face of heavy pressure from the Demons, while Molina was able to turn away numerous Glenwood chances by winning balls in space.
Despite the shutout loss to the Demons, the young Bears can come away from this game knowing that they have a solid goalkeeper in Jimenez who can keep them in any game, much like he did against Glenwood on the road.
“He did so well for us,” Rifle Head Coach David Romero said. “He’s a freshman playing goalkeeper for the first time. We’ve been working with him a lot and been talking about coming out and making the mistake off the line and just the courage it takes [to play this position] and he’s really stepped up. Being a goalkeeper has a huge mental aspect to the game not getting down after a goal or two and he showed us a lot of character.”
With the loss, Rifle falls to 0-6-1 (0-4) on the season while Glenwood improves to 4-3 (2-2 4A WSL). The Bears will host Palisade next Tuesday, while the Demons will travel to Battle Mountain on Thursday.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth,” Smith said. “I talk to the guys a lot about ownership and taking ownership of the team, and I think the kids are taking to that. We’re really working on our defensive game after some tough losses, but we’re moving guys around and getting better. I think we’ve really come together as a team, but we have some tough games on the road these next few games in Battle and Steamboat.”
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