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Tigers scratch out win over Durango soccer

DHS falls 5-4 in league opener
DHS head boys soccer coach Danny Suits encourages Charles Gleason earlier this season. Gleason gave DHS a 1-0 lead over Grand Junction on Friday, but the Tigers eventually prevailed 5-4. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

After Friday’s 5-4 loss to Grand Junction High School, the Durango boys soccer team is looking forward to its chance to even the score.

Durango went into halftime of both teams’ 4A Southwestern League opener leading 3-2, but they were also short-handed after a Demon picked up a second yellow card 32:20 in. Grand Junction then scored the next three goals in the physical game and held off a late DHS rally to get the win.

“It’s a tough result, no two ways about it,” said DHS head coach Danny Suits.

“It was certainly intense,” said DHS captain Sam Persing. “It’s always intense at home under the lights on a Friday, but that one was definitely for the books.”

The Demons started strong and scored in the third minute when Teryk Webber assisted Charles “Chuck” Gleason.

Grand Junction, however, tied the game three minutes later and then took a 2-1 lead in the 10th minute.

Persing nearly tied the game when he blocked an attempted clear from Grand Junction’s goalie, but the deflection just sailed wide. About two minutes later, however, DHS did even the score. Durango played the ball long and Dylan Burns chased it down in the corner just before it went out of bounds. Burns then centered a pass and Mavrick Rodriguez knocked it in the goal.

A second yellow on Davis Cameron left DHS with 10 players for the last 47:40, but the short-handed Demons struck next.

Burns played a nice ball in the box and Persing scored in the side-netting to put the Demons up 3-2.

“Being down a man, everyone stepped up,” Persing said. “I think that built some momentum for us.”

DHS nearly doubled their lead a couple times early in the second half. Persing fed Owen Carozza a one-timer that just missed wide. Carozza then juked a defender to create a look, but his shot was saved.

The Tigers, however, tied the game with 29:26 remaining, took a 4-3 lead about five minutes later then added an insurance goal with 11:53 left.

“Being a man down is harder as the game goes on,” Suits said. “You have to be more defensive-minded.”

The Demons kept fighting and made it a one-goal game with 3:46 left. Carlos Rayos helped DHS get a corner kick, then got fouled after the corner to earn a penalty kick.

Carozza took the PK and his first shot was blocked with a diving save. The ball bounced free, however, and Carozza followed the ball and finished his second chance to make it 5-4.

DHS, however, ran out of time before it could get the equalizer.

“I’m looking forward to the rematch,” Suits said.

DHS is now 4-2-0 overall and 0-1-0 in the SWL. GJHS improved to 3-2-1, 1-0-0. The teams will meet again on Sept. 30 in Grand Junction.

DHS will be in Grand Junction next when it continues league play on Sept. 16 against Grand Junction Central (2-3-0, 0-1-0).