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Early strike sends Durango past Grand Junction

Demons open league on strong footing

The Durango High School girls soccer team wanted to score a goal in the first seven minutes of Thursday’s league opener. Mason Rowland delivered.

Off an assist from senior Cameron Kelly the Durango sophomore would score her fourth goal of the early season in the fifth minute of the 5A/4A Southwestern League opener in Grand Junction.

Neither team would find another goal in the contest, as the Demons held on to beat the host Grand Junction Tigers 1-0 to improve to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in league action.

“I am super proud of the effort the girls gave,” DHS head coach Melissa Halonen said. “Both teams, our junior varsity, too. I am excited to see the depth our program has right now, and getting this win on the road was exciting.”

Halonen said it was a back-and-forth contest the entire way. DHS goalkeeper Jocelyn Feir would make two brilliant saves to deny the Tigers (0-1, 0-1 SWL) and record her second shutout in as many matches.

“They had some pretty fast, strong girls up front and playing defense, so we had to work hard on a really hot day up here,” Halonen said.

Durango had a few more opportunities to score but couldn’t quite finish. But the early goal did a lot to relieve the stress on a Demons team that only had one practice before Tuesday’s season opener against Bayfield, a 9-0 home win.

“I think there were a lot of nerves coming into this game. You could tell on the bus ride and during warmups,” Halonen said. “Once we got that first goal in, we settled in and played our game.

“We had 21 kids in quarantine during tryout week and then we jumped right into our game with Bayfield. Then we had the one day of practice before this game. Getting into some practice will really be helpful for us.”

Now, DHS will finally get a chance to get together on the practice field with a week to prepare for another road trip to face league foe Fruita Monument at 5 p.m. May 14.

“Every single game this season counts with it being such a short season. We want every win we can get to make sure we get into the playoffs,” Halonen said. “

jlivingston@durangoherald.com