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Chargers rally for win in opener

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Froning, McWilliams score late for Chatfield

By Craig Harper
For the Courier
 There’s nothing the coach of a young team wants more in the season opener than to see how his players react to adversity.
The Chatfield boys soccer team dominated ThunderRidge for the most part in the 2013 home debut Aug. 29, yet trailed 1-0 with just under 25 minutes remaining in second half.
“That’s when you find out what your team’s about,’’ said Chargers head coach Brock Blume.
The response was an emphatically positive one for a Chargers team replacing 13 seniors from a 2012 squad that lost in the second round of the 5A playoffs to eventual state champion Boulder. Frustration could have been setting in, until Daniel Froning and Cameron McWilliams scored their first career goals in a span of 20 minutes, enabling Chatfield to catch and surpass the Grizzlies for a 2-1 victory.
ThunderRidge scored on Jacob Sloan’s penalty kick with 3:22 left in the first half — its only shot on goal until a soft header with just under five minutes left and a free kick from in front of the goal moments later that was saved by returning goalkeeper Steven Seagraves. Seagraves finished with four saves.
Chatfield finished with a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal and couldn’t capitalize on several other good scoring opportunities. But, said Froning, a senior left midfielder, “It gave us a push to get that extra step and overcome some adversity.’’
Froning began the comeback by taking a pass from Jamey McGrath and working down the left side against a ThunderRidge defender. Froning got a step on the Grizzly and nailed a shot past lanky goalkeeper Andrew Lundberg, who ended up with five saves in the game, into the far corner of the net for the tying goal with 23:44 left.
“He fouled me and the ref let it go, and I kept going and scored the ball,’’ Froning said. “It being my first varsity goal makes it extra special.’’
A ThunderRidge penalty that McWilliams, a sophomore defender, questioned resulted in his game-winning free kick from just inside midfield. The ball, aided by a strong tailwind, sailed over the reach of Lundberg at the 11:33 mark.
“I made a couple of those last year on JV,’’ McWilliams said. “I was hoping for a goal, whether it was me or somebody else. I just wanted to get it up there. After I kicked it, I felt it had a pretty good shot; I wasn’t sure if the keeper could get to it or not.  It meant a lot because we work on situations like that.’’
Though he didn’t score, junior striker Ben Overhold was one of Chatfield’s most active players on offense. The top returning scorer from 2012 (13 points including nine goals), Overhold put three shots on goal, two of the Chargers’ three in the first half, when they easily could have had more.
“Beside the reaction to being down, any coach can be happy getting the chances we had,’’ Blume said.
And Chatfield’s defense was strong and aggressive as well, limiting the Grizzlies to the one shot during the flow of play. The Chargers return just one defender from last season in senior Robert Simpson.
“We lost a lot of seniors, but I think we’re going to do pretty well this season,’’ McWilliams said.
Blume echoed those sentiments.
“This group’s got a lot of great players,’’ Blume said. “It was a happy result. We can take this game and grow from it.”