LONGMONT — Seldom does each team come away with a sense of accomplishment after a soccer match, but Thursday represented one of those times.
After a quick deluge saturated the pitch at Skyline High, the host Falcons knocked off visiting Erie 3-1 in the Tri-Valley League opener for both teams. For Skyline, the defending league champs, it served as a solid season-opening victory.
For Erie, it provided notice that the Tigers aren’t going to take long to become a factor. The Tigers (1-1 overall, 0-1 league) hung tough in their first ever league match.
“It was just a nerve-wracking game because you didn’t know what they were bringing to the field,” said Skyline junior Ulises Garcia, who put the Falcons on the board in the 37th minute. “But we got it and we took the win home.”
Garcia headed home a perfectly-placed corner kick by Jonathan Flores to give Skyline a 1-0 lead just before the break. Then the Falcons (1-0, 1-0) tacked on two more in the opening five minutes of the second half.
The first was a far-post rocket from Bobby Arteaga from the right flank. Then Cruz Valdez took a feed from Marco Rodriguez, darted ahead of the pack and made it 3-0.
“My hope is that it’s only going to get better,” Skyline coach Luis Chavez said. “We were a little too nervous, a little too excited probably, and at first we were giving the ball away too many times. We just needed to get our composure and play the game the way we know.”
Erie got on the board with 3 minutes, 7 seconds to play when junior Joshua Michels pounded home a penalty kick. Michels, an exchange student from the Netherlands, also scored two goals Tuesday night in Erie’s 3-2 win at Conifer (Dominic Byrd had the other).
Keeping in mind Skyline was 10-0 in league play last season and has many of the same players back, a 3-1 loss wasn’t too shabby for a team playing its second game ever.
“I think we showed a lot of people around the league that we’re here to play,” Erie coach Dayton Owens said. “We showed we’re going to give every team in the league a game and that nobody is going to walk over us.”
Erie goalkeeper Joseph Gildhouse made several sterling saves and already has made 20 stops through two games. So far, it doesn’t appear that the Tigers will be allowing many soft goals.
“It was a statement game for us even though it was a loss 3-1,” Owens said. “We’re making a statement that we’re here to play.”
For Skyline, it was just a matter of getting going. Garcia had one blast on frame prior to his goal that Gildhouse acrobatically tipped over crossbar. But the Falcons patiently awaited their time to strike.
“It was just the first game, and the field conditions, they were not the best,” Garcia said. “We had some new forwards up top and there was some lack-of-communication stuff. But we got it together.”
While Skyline might have been frustrated early, the Falcons’ three goals came in a span of eight minutes, underscoring their high-powered potential.
“Honestly, I would have liked to be a little better,” Chavez said. “But I’m also not unhappy because we created some opportunities. We just needed to finish them and put it away.”
Skyline 3, Erie 1
At Skyline HS
Erie (1-1, 0-1) 0 1 — 1
Skyline (1-0, 1-0) 1 2 — 3
Goals (assists) — Skyline: Ulises Garcia (Jonathan Flores), 37th minute; Skyline: Bobby Arteaga, 41st; Skyline: Cruz Valdez (Marco Rodriguez), 45th; Erie: Joshua Michels (PK), 77th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Erie: Joseph Gildhouse (80-3-8); Skyline: Noel Garcia (40-0-1), Gabe Chavez (40-1-2).