Rams fall to Panthers on Senior Night
Thursday’s home encounter with the Delta Panthers was Senior Night for the Roaring Fork Rams soccer team. Axel Palomera, Lorenzo Andrade, Nicholas Penzel and Christian Alvarado wanted nothing more than to end their home careers, in front of the friendly Carbondale crowd, with a win against one of the top squads in the Western Slope League.
“At the start of the season, our initial goal was to win every game we played,” said Andrade at the conclusion of the game and of his team’s season. “We gave it our all tonight.”
Despite a spirited effort, the Rams gave up two costly early goals to the Panthers, and could never quite recover in a 4-1 loss that ended their season with a very respectable 10-5 overall record, and 5-4 in the 3A Western Slope League.
Delta (12-3, 8-1 WSL) had everything to gain with the victory in Carbondale, as the Panthers were playing for a share of the league championship and the WSL’s top seed heading into next week’s state tournament.
“They were playing for a purpose, and we were playing for pride and our seniors tonight,” Roaring Fork Head Coach Nick Forbes said. “This wasn’t our best game, but we were just inches away many times this year in coming out on top, and we couldn’t quite do it. That’s the way things go sometimes, though.”
The Panthers certainly did look like a team with championship aspirations, as sophomore Jason Holiman scored a header off a perfectly placed corner kick from senior Colton Godwin to get the game’s initial goal at the 35:18 mark of the first half.
Next up for Delta at the 27:24 time slot was senior Isaac Fuller who bolted a point blank goal past Ram keeper Leo Loya to give the team dressed in green a quick 2-0 margin.
Roaring Fork then became more aggressive on the offensive end of the field, as an arching centering pass from sophomore Liam Laird found fellow sophomore Joe Salinas just outside the Delta goal. When Salinas smacked the ball into the net past Panther goalie Joseph Holiman, the Ram hopes for victory were alive and well.
With the outcome very much in doubt to start the final half of play, Delta junior Danny Mendoza put a damper on the enthusiasm of the home crowd in a hurry as he moved the ball steadily up the right side of the field, and by the narrowest of margins, slid the ball into the corner of the Roaring Fork goal to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead with 39:25 showing on the clock.
“The early second half goal hurt,” Palomera said. “Maybe the half cooled us down a bit. They came out with more intensity in the second half and caught us on our heels.”
A critical moment in the Roaring Fork comeback attempt came with 29:37 left in the contest as a Salinas header, created by a deft pass from sophomore Ariahn Barajas, drifted just wide left of the goal, keeping the deficit at 3-1 as time ticked slowly away on Roaring Fork.
Delta freshman Martin Corral added an insurance goal for the Panthers with 6:01 left to play, as he lofted a header into the Ram net to account for the final scoring of the night.
Delta and Coal Ridge ended up tied for the top spot in the Western Slope League with identical conference marks, but the Panthers will be seeded higher for state based on their victory over the Titans earlier in the season.
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