Rifle’s strong start too much for EV
Assistant Sports Editor
Bears 3, Devils 2
RIFLE ” On a day when the cylinders weren’t clicking, Dustin Clay provided the spark to lift Rifle to a 3-2 win over Eagle Valley Tuesday.
He scored both of his two goals in the first half to stake the Bears to a 2-0 lead, then watch his team hang on when Eagle Valley scored two unanswered goals after Uriel Quezada added Rifle’s third goal early in the second half.
The victory keeps the fourth-place Bears in the hunt for the Class 4A state playoffs.
“For most of the game I felt we had control,” Clay said. “We had a lot of energy, because at home games we seem to lack it. We finally came out with a solid punch, and we got the job done.”
Rifle and especially Clay was exceptionally sharp in the game’s first 50 minutes of play.
After missing a scoring opportunity in the opening moments, Clay got another chance in the 13th minute. And this time he wasn’t going to go away empty-handed.
Clay pulled down a bounding ball with his chest, settled it to his right foot then punched a shot under Eagle Valley keeper Mauricio Lagos’ legs for a score.
He surprised Lagos again when he collared the goalie’s punt toward midfield, then sent it back with enough oomph to beat Lagos to the near post.
“I just kind of hit (the ball) in that direction. Then I hoped and prayed for the first few seconds,” Clay said of the shot. “I saw that the keeper was way out of the box, and I blew up when that second goal went in ” a 30-yard header. I never had one of those.”
Lagos came up with another last-second leg save on Clay in the final seconds before halftime.
The Bears, who finished with 18 shots on goal, kept up their assault after intermission. Quezada scored with less than seven minutes gone in the second half for a 3-0 lead.
Then some of the punch Clay mentioned lost its steam in the last 30 minutes.
Cesar Castillo and John Gabriel scored to cut Rifle’s lead to 3-2.
“Toward the end of the second half, we kind of shut down a little bit, because we were tired,” Clay said. “But we continued to play hard. I was satisfied with that.”
Rifle concludes the regular season Thursday at Palisade.
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