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Athlete of the Week: Matthew Parkes

Grand Junction Tigers soccer is just four wins away from a state title
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 12:49 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Grand Junction soccer team started their season with three losses in four games. Then, a stunning turnaround pushed the Tigers into states, winning nine of their last ten. After beating Steamboat Springs to open up the playoffs on Thursday, Grand Junction is just four wins away from a CHSAA state championship.

Midfielder Matthew Parkes has led the way all year with five goals and nine assists. The Tigers senior captain is our Athlete of the Week.

“I’m just trying to keep my eyes open for everyone,” Parkes told us. “We try and space it out as much as possible, possess the ball when we can, and make passes to the forward players to go do their jobs.”

Having a strong midfield is the number one key to success on the pitch. Parkes and fellow midfielder Luis Aguirre each play a huge role in finding the net, even if they aren’t scoring most of the goals themselves.

“The midfield is the biggest portion of the field,” explained the Tigers head coach, Jonathan Pando. “When you have players like Matt and Luis, controlling the entire midfield., it takes a huge amount of pressure off the coaches’ shoulders, and the other players’ shoulders.”

Parkes was born and raised in England, moving to Grand Junction at age 13. Surprisingly, he says the game is actually much faster-paced here in America.

“It’s a very different game in Europe,” he reflected. “The way you play is a lot slower. Here it’s almost like a track meet, the way some people run.”

It certainly felt like a sprint on Thursday, with Junction and Steamboat Springs going back and forth in a thriller. The Tigers scored five second half goals, beating the Sailors 5-3, and keeping their hopes alive for a state title.

Grand Junction soccer travels to Cheyenne Mountain on Wednesday. A win would push the Tigers into the state quarterfinals.

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