Saturday, August 25, 2012

Frontier’s Montana duo dominate in Red Lion Challenge

Delgadillo thrilled again for Argos; Gore scored Rocky Mountain season opener | photos: Gerald Barnhart
On the second night of the Red Lion Challenge action at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane, Wash., it was all Montana as the Frontier Conference’s Rocky Mountain College and University of Great Falls dominated in victories against the Cascade Collegiate Conference’s Northwest Christian, 4-0, and Warner Pacific, 3-1, in a double header.

Northwest Christian University 0:4 Rocky Mountain College

After a hard-fought 1-0 loss to 21st-ranked Great Falls the night before, the second match in as many nights proved too much for the school out of Salem, Ore. The Beacons kept it close in the first half, allowing only one goal before Rocky Mountain took control in the second and ran off three more unanswered as four different players found the back of the net for the school out of Billings.

“Northwest Christian, give em credit, came out with a lot of intensity and struggled to let us get into a rhythm,” said Rocky Mountain head coach Richard Duffy. “In the second half I think the field started to open up a little bit. They played a game last night and we were fresh. I think our legs started to show in the second half.”

The first quality chance of the contest came nine minutes in for Rocky Mountain with Oliver Gore having a close range shot stopped point blank by Dusty Stephens, who was the hero the night before.

Two minutes later, however, a ball in behind the defense from Brandon Loeffler (Butte, MT) left Gore with an easy move around Stephens for an empty-netter.

Northwest Christian had a chance to level terms six minutes before the break when a long ball bounced high on the turf over the defense, which misjudged its flight. The ball came back down in awkward territory near the six, creating miscommunication between defender Sebastian Holmquist and goalkeeper Joachim Soderstrom and allowing Nick Peloquin a chance to poke it toward the left post, but it would go wide.

Goal, assist for Heffernan (NCU-RMC gallery)
Peloquin had another chance early in the second half from about eight yards, but his tight angle shot from the right side to the near post was knocked out by the keeper.

Rocky Mountain nearly doubled the lead in the 57th minute when a low cross rifled into the six from Nick Heffernan was redirected on goal by Mikey Wall (Billings, MT) only to carom off the keeper and away.

The duo would not go quietly, however. Heffernan delivered a cross from the right flank in the 74th minute that found the head of James Voisey, who sent it in just under the bar from the middle of the area.

“He’s been one of our best players the last few years,” Duffy said of Heffernan. “He’s a senior this year, scores a lot of goals for us. In the second half, that’s what we tried to do; we put him out wide and tried to get the ball to his feet as much as possible. I think their left back did a great job on him. I think when we switched him over to the left hand side he started causing some problems coming inside instead of outside.”

Seven minutes later Heffernan would add a goal of his own, dribbling through the defense and firing from 18 yards to push the advantage to three goals. With a minute remaining in the contest Wall would send in a short cross finished off by Tanner Wolff (Billings).

“I thought our center backs Sebastian Holmquist and Taylor Ita (Havre, MT) in the back kinda did a good job; limited the other team’s opportunities tonight. Offensively I think we could do things a little better in the final third, create more opportunities. But if we win every game 4-0 I think we’ll be happy.

“It should be a good year. We’ll see tomorrow night if we can rebound and play Warner Pacific. We got a chance to watch them play a little bit tonight, but I think we’ve got a good mix of youth and seniority. I’m kind of excited to see where the season’s gonna go. Good to start off with a win.

Though Warner Pacific is the foe Saturday evening, looming ahead this season is the annual showdown with their in-state rivals from Great Falls.

“It’s always a battle when we play,” said Duffy. “We beat them two years ago and last year they took two from us. It’s always a close game. I’ll be excited to see what kind of squad they have this year and look forward to playing them soon.”

Warner Pacific College 1:3 University of Great Falls

It looked early on as though Great Falls was going to pick up right where it left off the night before, dominating the early possession and having the better of chances. Instead, they found themselves trailing after 19 minutes following a dramatic turn of events.

Two minutes earlier a long ball over the top bouncing in the box fell to Christian Johansen, who poked it through the defender’s legs only to have the goalkeeper make a nice reaction save on the following shot. Moments later on the second chance scramble off a corner it looked as though the Argonauts had the opener only to see the offside flag negate the strike.

Warner Pacific struck first (WPC-UGF gallery)
Perhaps still reeling from the events of the 17th minute, Great Falls was caught off guard at the other end when a cross in from defender Brandon Tatum was knocked into the upper corner by an onrushing Jameson Jones from about 15 yards.

The match then became the Danny Delgadillo show once again. Three minutes later he collected the ball and drove into the box before ripping it past the keeper from about 14 yards to knot the score back up.

“We went down 1-0 and my goal was to tell the team, ‘hey look, you just gotta keep fighting. We are gonna get scored on this year. It’s how you respond,’ said UGF head coach Paul Zazenski.

“I was extremely proud of my boys for responding and getting a goal pretty close after we got scored upon. We got our goal and then the momentum kinda turned our way a little bit and the performance of Danny Delgadillo once again was phenomenal, but just to respond after that goal was definitely what we were looking to do.”

Juan Guzman
With halftime seconds away, a defensive lapse gave Great Falls the lead at the break when Tatum possessed the ball 10 yards out directly in front of goal instead of clearing it out. The casual play allowed Delgadillo to steal the ball and bury it out of reach of Drew Bonifacio, who was replaced at halftime by Dorian Lair.

Five minutes into the second half Paul Silwa surprised everyone with a long distance effort that was misplayed by Lair, giving the Argos the two goal cushion.

From there, Great Falls fell into a bit of a shell playing on tired legs. But despite continual possession for the final half-hour, the Knights just could not find a good look at goal for a chance to rally.

“I think that’s a testament to our back four and our goalkeeper, just defensively as a team stepping up and defending, and saying we’re not going to give up another goal. Juan Guzman and Marius Theodorsen came up huge for us again, especially Juan Guzman. He’s just all over the place and he’s a heck of a defender.”

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