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Pirate soccer team faces three league matches this week

While outshooting their opponents (especially during an explosive second period), the Pagosa Springs Pirates were unable to overcome the Ridgway Demons last Saturday, losing 2-1 at home.

A perfect Pagosa Indian Summer day greeted both players and fans, paving the way for a game that was both exciting and heartbreaking.

Coming into the game unbeaten, having given up but a single goal all season (in an Oct. 1 tie against the Crested Butte Titans), the Demons presented a formidable challenge for Pagosa. Although Pirate sophomore Matt Fisher took several long shots on the Demons’ goal (all of which cleared the net with plenty of room to spare), it was Ridgway that finally connected, putting a quick shot in at 10 minutes, 21 seconds into the half.

With both teams communicating well on the field and exhibiting skilled passing, the first half was well-matched in pitched offensive and defensive battles. Unfortunately, it was only the Demons who managed to follow through on their shots. A second bullet that passed through the hands of Pirate senior goalie Allen McIver with 5:12 left in the period sent the Demons into the second half with a 2-0 advantage.

“They were two quick goals that shouldn’t have gone in,” said Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, explaining a first half that, while evenly matched, provided Ridgway with the lead.

Fired up, Pagosa dominated in the second half, with the defense immobilizing Ridgway’s shooting game and the offense harassing the Demon’s goalie. Taking numerous shots on the Ridgway goal, the Pirates eventually capitalized as Lars Schneider overpowered the Demons’ goalie at the 10:31 mark, dribbling the ball into the net.

Unfortunately, despite multiple opportunities at the net, the Pirates were unable to follow shots in and the game ended 2-1 in Ridgway’s favor.

Still, the boys remained jovial and in high spirits after the game despite fighting so hard for the big one that got away. Likewise, Kurt-Mason expressed pleasure with his team’s performance — especially in the level of skill and teamwork exhibited during the second half — and said, “They’re actually reaching their peak.”

Recognizing Schneider’s aggressive, no-nonsense level of play (“He’s really giving it up for the team, not regarding his body ... he’s really getting in there”), Kurt-Mason gave special praise for senior Jordan Davey, “He was coming up from the back, filling in gaps.”

Dropping to 2-4 in conference play (and 5-7 overall), the Pirates face a grueling final week of the scheduled season.

Taking to the road today to meet the Center Vikings, the Pirates hope to repeat the sound 5-0 thrashing they handed out when they hosted Center on Sept. 17. The Pirates return home on Saturday for an 11 a.m. game at Golden Peaks stadium, hosting the Telluride Miners. Despite dropping a hard-fought game to the Miners, losing 2-1 in Telluride on Sept. 12, the Pirates have the home-field advantage and a more cohesive squad. On Tuesday, the Pirates finish up their regular season as they host conference rival Bayfield at 4 p.m., hoping to repeat the 6-1 rout handed the Wolverines on Sept. 22.

With all three games in conference, the Pirates could reconcile their league record to 5-4 if they can win every game — not an unlikely scenario. While the 6-5 Miners will most likely present the toughest challenge, the 0-6 Vikings (killed by Bayfield last Saturday, 7-9) and the 2-6 Wolverines look to provide little fight for the Pirates. — or Pagosa’s post-season aspirations.

jim@pagosasun.com