Boulder Daily Camera file photo
ERIE – The Erie Tigers handed the No. 4 ranked Loveland Indians their first loss of the season with a 2-1 upset win at Tiger Stadium on Monday.
“This was a great team effort,” Erie’s Jacob Marcoux said. “We worked our butts off. We had a hard loss when we played Niwot (in our last game), so it feels good to come back and get this win for the team.”
Erie wasted no time getting on the board with Evan Harbaugh getting to a rebound in the goal box and putting it in the corner of the net eight minutes into the game. The lead was extended at the 33-minute mark when Zach Crooks moved around a defender to a loose ball and then booted it past the Loveland goalie.
Both goals were a sign of willpower as Erie (6-3, 2-0 Tri-Valley League) outworked Loveland (8-1, 1-1) to get to the ball and score.
“It was really good pressure up top,” Erie coach Jeff Vigil said of the goals. “We have young guys that are hungry and press the ball. Our two forwards really worked well together and stay connected. There was a couple of mistakes and we were able to finish them.”
Pressure was the difference for Erie to get the upset win on Monday.
When the Tigers did not have the ball, players from all levels on the field chased it down and battled with Loveland players for possession. Most of the battles were won by Erie early and chances for Loveland were limited. The pressure also saw Loveland struggling to connect on long passes up the field that were off the mark due to the wind or interceptions on the back line.
“We knew they were good with the ball and fast,” Marcoux said. “I had to talk on the back line and get in front of everyone and get situated. If you’re unorganized, that’s how they get their goals. As long as we were organized in the back, we were fine.”
On the couple of early chances from Loveland that did get past the back line of Erie, they were stopped by Trey Hollis with a couple of big saves in net.
The pressure continued in the second half for Erie but was flipped in the final 10 minutes when Loveland began playing with desperation. Every play saw Loveland fire the ball up the field and bring the pressure to get to the ball, resulting in the field being flipped and action being controlled in the Loveland offensive zone. With seven minutes remaining, the deficit was cut in half with a John Roberts goal.
“It wasn’t that we were doing a whole lot different, I think it was just the guys playing like they wanted to win,” Loveland coach Chad Arthur said. “In the entire first half, it felt like we were sitting back and playing reactionary soccer. We were letting (Erie) dictate the game and the ball. For the last 10 minutes, we finally tried to make something happen.”
Loveland would press on after the goal and got a good shot from Wes Knaus with two minutes remaining, but the shot was saved and the lead would stay with Erie to the final whistle.
“I know what they are capable of doing, it’s just a matter of them being able to see it,” Vigil said. “I don’t think there is anybody we can’t compete with. I think it’s just a matter of these guys believing in themselves and seeing it. Now that they’ve seen, I hope we can continue it and move forward.”
As for Loveland, the team will look to regroup and bounce back from its first loss of the year.
“The guys know how to play,” Arthur said. “I have some things to fix on the bench and locker room side of things. We win as a team and we lose as a team.”