Palisade soccer all but clinches league title
GYPSUM — Palisade soccer all but wrapped up the 4A Western Slope title on Tuesday night, defeating Eagle Valley, 4-0.
The Bulldogs moved to 9-1 in league and 10-1 over. Palisade needs one win in its final two Slope games — on Thursday at home against Rifle, winless in league play, or against Battle Mountain on Thursday, May 4.
It is not a stretch of the imagination that Palisade will have everything sewn up before seeing the Huskies during the season finale.
In the meantime, Eagle Valley played the entire first half on Tuesday night without some key starters who missed practice on Monday, the first day back from spring break.
And Palisade took advantage, scoring all four of the game’s goals in the first 40 minutes.
“I think it’s a life lesson in terms of understanding what it takes to be at the competitive level,” Devils coach Maggie Sherman said. “Competitive teams need that. Upholding those rules is good for the girls in terms of learning how to be teammates and learning how to do the things teams need to do. It’s a bummer it has to happen, but it’s the bigger picture.”
It’s important to note that a team can’t win a game without scoring a goal. So imagining a hypothetical where Eagle Valley played Palisade at full strength for just the second half constituting a full game on Tuesday, the Devils still didn’t score on the Bulldogs.
Palisade proved itself to be the better team, having won the first encounter between the two teams, 3-2, on April 1, and by leading the league from start to finish.
And Palisade took control in the first half early with Christina Chatfield scoring off a corner kick during the first five minutes. Lexi Newton struck in the 10th minute on a breakaway.
Palisade’s Sami Feller entered Tuesday’s game with 22 goals and left Gypsum with 24.
Before Tuesday’s action, the Devils were a bubble team, ranked No. 29 in the rating-percentage index with 32 squads qualifying for the postseason.
In one of the quirks of RPI, the Devils should move up after playing Palisade because the Bulldogs are 10-1 and a team’s opponents’ winning percentage makes up 50 percent of the formula.
The Devils (7-6, 5-5) finish the season with what Sherman considers “must-win” games on Tuesday up in Steamboat Springs followed by a home date on May 4 against Summit County.
“We basically have to take care of what we can take care of, and then leave the rest up to the numbers,” Sherman said.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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