Pirate soccer team finishes season 4-7-2

Finishing up their season at home on Tuesday, the Pirates gave local soccer fans a bittersweet farewell, tying Bayfield 1-1 (stepping up slightly from a March loss to the Wolverines) and saying good-bye to the five seniors on the squad.

Fighting a tight mid-field battle during the early minutes of the first period, the Pirates took the initiative closer to the Bayfield goal towards the middle of the half. Visibly rattled (and taking several penalties), the Wolverines appeared unprepared to face a more seasoned and confident Pagosa team. With 24 minutes, 31 seconds left in the half, junior Natalie Erickson put a hard shot in over a crowd of Bayfield defenders giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

Shaken, the Wolverines attempted a rally in the last minutes of the first half but were incapable of getting the ball past the stalwart hands of Pirate goalie Alyssa Laydon. Just a sophomore, Laydon will be an important future asset for the Pirates (as she has been this season) and her performance Tuesday, with several extremely impressive saves, had local fans on their feet.

Going into the second half down a goal, the Wolverines continued their pressure on the Pirates, driving several times to the Pagosa goal but unable to get the ball past Laydon. Finally, drawing Laydon out of the box, the Wolverines managed a get a chip shot into the corner with 29:53 left in the game.

Both teams stepped up their game, moving the ball back and forth past the mid-field for a shooting match that produced no results. Taking the game into two five-minute overtime periods, neither team was able to capitalize on chances at the goal and, with yet another incredible save by Laydon in the final seconds of the game, the Wolverines and Pirates split the game with a 1-1 tie.

The game followed matches on Friday and Monday.

Carrying a stripped-down team to Ridgway Friday and a similar skeleton crew to Telluride Monday, the Pirates were unable to fill in the gaps, taking a 2-0 loss against the Demons Friday and a 6-2 loss against the Miners three days later.

Having held the Demons to a tie at home on April 11, the Pirates were unable to match or beat Ridgway on their home field.

“We had a pretty solid game,” said Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, “but we had two breakdowns, at the very first and the very end of the game. In the very first four minutes, we just weren’t organized.”

In Telluride on Monday, the Pirates were unable to maintain the strong offensive defensive showing they’d displayed in the first half of the game. With a leadoff goal from sophomore Kassidy Smith (assisted by junior Justine Smith), the Pirates were unable to hold onto their early momentum when the Miners answered that goal less than a minute later. With a shooting match in the works, Pirate sophomore Nicole Hunt scored another goal for Pagosa at the 35 minute mark. Again, less than a minute latter, Telluride responded with a goal of their own, taking the game into the second half with a 2-2 tie.

Unfortunately, the Pirates were ineffective offensively and defensively in the second half, allowing 12 shots on the goal and another four Miner points. With 14 saves credited for the game (with eight saves in the second period), Laydon was seemingly left on her own in the box.

“There was a lack of commitment out there and they just didn’t get their act together,” said Kurt-Mason.

With Tuesday’s tie with Bayfield, the Pirates ended their season with a 4-7-2 record and no chance to make the state playoffs. Most likely fielding four returning seniors next year, along with nine juniors and nine sophomores, the Pirates look to have a good shot at state next year and in years to come.

“We’re playing really solid soccer,” said Kurt-Mason, “with good defense. We’re a young team with a lot of potential.”

Although Kurt-Mason had special praise for sophomore Kassidy Smith and senior Nichole Kazarinoff, saying, “They were outstanding in mid-field, they had no mistakes,” the coach wanted to recognize the team’s seniors, Kazarinoff, Ani Gallegos, and Kayla Hunt as, “leaders on the team — they’re going to be missed.”

jim@pagosasun.com