Incrementally better from the start of the season, the Pirates showed themselves stepping up little by little this past week. Hosting Crested Butte, the Pirates held the Titans to a 0-0 tie on Saturday, while exacting revenge on the visiting Farmington, N.M. Scorpions 4-0 on Tuesday.
Given the games last week, the Pirates should have a 5-3-1 record for the season. Unfortunately, after it was revealed that Pagosa had an ineligible player on the field Saturday, the Crested Butte game was ruled a forfeit, resulting in a 0-1 loss for the Pirates in the records.
On a perfect autumn day for high school sports, the Pirates were unable to finish opportunities on the Titan’s goal. While good passing on both sides pushed the action back and forth along the field, trading control in battles that favored neither offense nor defense, the Pirates nonetheless were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. In fact, neither team had much luck getting past defenders at the goal, much less any success getting the ball into the goal.
While the Pirates were matched on the field by the aggressive and physical play of the Titans and despite some spectacular plays by Pagosa junior Lars Schneider, the Crested Butte players protected their goal with diligence and determination, taking advantage of Pagosa’s inability to follow through on, what should have been, several scoring opportunities.
A deadlock in both halves (and during two five-minute overtime periods), the Pirates should have, for all intents and purposes, handed the Titans a loss, given that Pagosa had 22 shots on the goal compared to Crested Butte’s six shots on goal.
“We had possession for a greater percentage of the game,” said coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, “but our lack of finishing resulted in a tie game.”
Briefly, the player put into the game (his first for the Pirates) had not attended school the previous year, a violation of Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) athlete eligibility rules. When it came to light on Monday that the player was indeed ineligible, Pagosa Springs High School Principal David Hamilton immediately contacted CHSAA and Crested Butte High School, taking the forfeit.
“Forfeiting a game is not as big a deal as forfeiting a playoff,” Hamilton said, adding that he was confident in the Pirates’ playoff chances.
The Pirates’ fortunes turned around dramatically on Tuesday, taking a 4-0 revenge on the Farmington, N.M. Scorpions (who beat Pagosa 3-4 in Farmington for the Pirate’s season opener).
Playing a conservative first half, the Pirates managed to score at 19 minutes into the period on a set play from Ryan Searle with a 30-yard indirect kick. Although the Pirates had 13 shots on goal in the period, the Pirates ended the half with just a 1-0 advantage due to, as Kurt-Mason said, “Not any finish effort.”
The Pirates more than made up for an unspectacular first-half effort with an explosive second half. With Ryan and Riley Searle controlling the mid-field, both continually running off the ball, the Pirates had a clear edge in the second period. Coming from the defensive third to the attacking third, Quinn Smith sharpened that edge, adding to a formidable offensive attack.
At 41:45 into the game, Schneider delivered a second goal for the Pirates, putting Pagosa up 2-0. Delivering again seven minutes later, Schneider scored again on an excellent corner kick delivery from Matt Fisher. Ten minutes after that, Jacob Ormonde converted on yet another Fisher corner kick, sending the Scorpions scurrying back to Farmington with a 0-4 loss.
Expressing pleasure with his team’s effort, Kurt-Mason said, “In the second half we had 12 shots on goal and finished three of them.”
While the Pirates have been showing a quick, aggressive style on offense, that is, of course, only half the story. “Our defensive play keeps getting better,” Kurt-Mason said, a statement borne out by the fact that the Pirates have only been scored against a total of nine times all season. In fact, goalie Allen McIver’s mere 28 saves for the season not only betrays McIver’s prowess in the box but shows that the Pirate’s have done an excellent job holding opponents well away from their goalie.
The Pirates travel to Crested Butte on Saturday to hopefully finish some opportunities and reconcile the forfeit. The Pirates return home to host the Durango JV squad at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Golden Peaks Stadium.