With only two goals in four of their five games this season – setting aside a 5-1 home win against Montrose – the Durango High School boys soccer team was eager for a match in which they could build the attacking players’ confidence.
Grand Junction Central (0-7, 0-5 5A/4A Southwestern League) proved to be the perfect opponent for a Demons team that fired shots at will in Thursday night’s home match. Whether directly in front of goal or from long range, every Durango player looked to finish a shot in the back of the net in a 9-0 victory.
“It felt good to have a win like that at home after a disappointing game earlier this week with a tie that didn’t put us in a great position for the state tournament,” said DHS senior Logan Stetler, referencing Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Fruita Monument. “It felt good to get out there, ping it around and have fun scoring a bunch of goals like that after a couple disappointing games.”
After a bunch of near misses in the match’s opening 20 minutes, it was Harrison Beattie who got onto the score sheet first for the Demons in the 22nd minute. He scored off a corner kick played in by Ryan Bell. Right after the ensuing kickoff, Durango claimed possession of the ball, and Stetler let a shot fly from 32 yards out into the top shelf to make it 2-0 Demons (3-1-2, 3-1-2 SWL).
Evan Donovan followed Stetler’s lead with his own long-range shot from the right elbow of the 18-yard box in the 28th minute to make it 3-0 as the flood gates had opened.
Stetler add one more to make it 4-0 with another missile in the 34th minute, this time from 36 yards out.
“It definitely feels good to watch it float in,” Stetler said. “Getting a bit of space to just hit one, it’s a lot of fun and a little more satisfying than a tap-in goal.”
DHS would carry that 4-0 lead into halftime, and it didn’t take long for the Demons to score in the second. After a few wonderful chances missed early in the first half made him cringe and hide his face in his jersey, Sayer Frontella felt relief to finish a goal for the Demons in the 47th minute.
It was Frontella again with the sixth goal for DHS before the Warriors put one into their own net to make it 7-0.
David Smagacz would get his goal for DHS in the 66th minute. And, after several of his own shots barely missed the goal, Sam Carozza found the back of the net on a beautiful individual effort in the 69th minute. With a defender on him and the goalkeeper charging off his line to the top of the box, Carozza flicked the ball into the air to himself past both Central players, and he finished a header into a wide-open goal.
“We talked (Wednesday) in training about needing to have a balance of having a bit more fun playing while still having the focus to do the right thing,” said DHS head coach Aaron Champenoy. “We need to play with a looser mentality and take chances. We’ve been passing up good chances looking for a perfect chance, and there’s no such thing as a perfect chance. We had a bit of fun, loosened up and played how we are capable of playing.”
DHS sophomore goalkeeper Fred Reiter didn’t have to make a save until there was four minutes left in the match. But Grand Junction Central also would earn a penalty kick after a forward was taken down in the box with two minutes to play.
Hiusef Miranda would step to the penalty spot and rip a shot past Reiter, but it was called off because a Warriors player behind him had stepped within 10 yards of the penalty mark before he struck the ball, which is not allowed. Miranda should have been allowed to retake the kick after making it, but it was given back to Durango for a goal kick, and the game’s final whistle sounded shortly after.
“It was good for us to get a clean sheet with three new starting defenders in this game,” Champenoy said. “We rested some guys with some injuries and some who have played a ton of minutes, so it was good for those younger guys to get the experience and play well.”
DHS has four games to play and does not control its own destiny for a league title or playoff spot. The Demons need to win their final two league contests, including noon Saturday against the same Grand Junction Central team on the road, and get some help.
“For our seniors right now, it’s going to be tough to get into the state tournament, but we got a chance,” Champenoy said. “We should win all four games left if we do what we are supposed to do, but we gotta win all of them. We have to take care of business and hope for some help on the other side with Grand Junction and Montrose.”