Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rocky Mountain completes Frontier sweep at Red Lion Challenge

Oliver Gore, left, led Rocky Mountain in a heated finale to Red Lion Challenge | Photos: Gerald Barnhart (gallery)
The final men’s soccer match of the Red Lion Challenge was a feisty affair that finished 2-0 in favor of the Frontier Conference’s Rocky Mountain College with Oliver Gore scoring twice in the win over Warner Pacific of the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

Both sides had spells of maintained possession in the contest, but it was a long ball over the top out of midfield 13 minutes into the second half that proved to be the pivotal moment. Chris Jermy’s ball found Gore all alone behind the defense, allowing him to turn and rip a shot from the right side of the top of the box into the far side netting out of the reach of Drew Bonifacio, who came in at the break.

“He seems to find himself in the right positions every time,” fourth year RMC coach Richard Duffy said of Gore’s three goals in two nights. “Over the last two years he scores roughly around a goal a game. He was injured a bit last year but I think he’s got around 26 goals in two years and played around 28 games so he’s right on track. He’s off to a good start. He’s still a little banged up, I don’t think he’s the player he normally is, he is struggling out there with a back injury but he’s still putting the ball in the back of the net.”

Three goals in two games for Gore
Gore continues to play through the knocks, though, fighting through some rough collisions and nasty tackles Saturday at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane, Wash.

“That’s just the way he plays,” said Duffy. “He likes to have a little contact on his back. He backs into people and spins off of them, so most of the times he plays he’s always getting knocked around a little, but the nice thing is I think he gives it back just as much as he gets it.”

The rest of the half was largely uneventful other than harsh shouts and a few shoves between the two sides until the dying moments when Gore struck again as Warner Pacific was looking to equalize. Rocky Mountain worked the ball up the left side with Mikey Wall (Billings, MT) taking the ball inside the box and slotting a short pass across the area to Gore for the finish into a half-open net from about eight yards.

“It was a battle tonight. Both teams were kinda going at each other and playing hard to try and get a result out of it.

“I was kinda proud of how the guys battled tonight. Last night was kind of disappointing. I didn’t think we played well even though we had a positive result. But tonight I think we played a little better. It was obviously it was a tougher opponent I think. But still gave up zero goals and scored a couple.”

It took some time for both sides to find some serious opportunities on goal in an even first half. Rocky Mountain’s fist chance came after 24 minutes when Brandon Loeffler (Butte, MT) rounded the keeper and defender eight yards out on the right side of the six, but the tight angle effort was cleared by a recovering defender from the backside.

Eleven minutes later a long free kick from midfield found Rocky Mountain’s Michael Eggen (Billings, MT) at the top right area of the box, but his shot sailed wide of the far post.

Momentum began to switch from the Battlin’ Bears to the Knights midway through the half and continued pressure on the offensive end finally began producing some chances for Warner Pacific. With six minutes left a ball across from the right endline reached Ricky Carmolinga (Spokane CC), who one-timed a shot that nearly beat the outstretched Joachim Soderstrom, who trapped the ball with his hand.

Rocky Mountain had one more chance with three minutes left when Nick Heffernan drove the ball up the right side before sending a low cross in to Loeffler, but his effort curled around the post and into the outside netting.

Warner Pacific nearly took the lead into the break with back-to-back opportunities. In the 43rd the ball popped out of the box to Jon Lucero, who ripped a shot from 25 yards that deflected off a defender and was narrowly tipped wide by the keeper and the last second.

The ensuing corner resulted in a scramble in the box with the bouncing ball teasing the Knights attackers, who could not connect for a finish, and frustrating the defenders who could not get a solid foot on the ball to clear it away.

The Frontier Conference duo of Rocky Mountain and Great Falls dominated the men’s portion of the Red Lion challenge with a four-game sweep, outscoring the opposition from Warner Pacific and Northwest Christian 10-1 on aggregate.

“I think we’re very strong,” said of the conference. “I think Great Falls – I watched them last night – they’re a good team. I thought they battled well with Warner last night. I think we are, and Westminster, will be good too. I think this is a good year for Frontier soccer on both the men’s and women’s sides.”

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