The Pirates took their final stand of the season on a warm but windy Friday afternoon, hosting the Bayfield Wolverines at Golden Peaks Stadium.
Having lost 2-0 to the Wolverines on April 13 in Bayfield, the Pirates needed to work to get revenge for that previous loss. Displaying the talent and tenaciousness that should have delivered them a berth in the state playoffs, the Pirates finished their season with an impressive 2-0 victory over the Wolverines.
The Pirates delivered on offense and on defense, setting the tempo for the game and frustrating the Wolverine’s attack. Playing a patient and deliberate game, the Pirate defense held the Wolverines to midfield while the Pagosa offense made several unsuccessful attempts to put the ball past Bayfield’s goalie.
With Pagosa junior Alyssa Laydon out, freshman Angie Gallegos stepped up as keeper for the entire game, more than proving her ability as she hustled to keep Bayfield balls out of the net. However, she was helped by a Pagosa defense that was stingy and formidable, with every Pirate player taking their turn as a defender.
“Natalie Erickson played the game of her life,” said coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason. “She got a couple bloody noses. She really got in there.”
Late in the first half, the Pirates poured on the pressure, at times swarming Bayfield’s goalie. With less than three minutes left in the half, Nicoll Hunt chipped a clean shot in from about 10 yards out, the ball just over the keeper’s reach, sending Pagosa out with a 1-0 lead.
Fired up, the Pirates carried their momentum into the second half, remaining strong on defense while quick and cohesive on offense. Frustrating Bayfield’s attempts to launch a downfield attack by holding the Wolverines to midfield, the Pirates controlled the tempo with an offensive advantage. With less than two minutes left in the game, Hunt scored again with an outside shot that flew well to the left of the Bayfield keeper’s reach, landing in the corner of the net and putting the cap on Pagosa’s 2-0 victory.
Finishing their season at 7-8, with a 5-5 record in the league, the Pirates were narrowly edged out of a playoff berth by the Wolverines as well as the Telluride Miners and the Ridgway Demons. Unfortunately, several stumbles early in the season, especially against conference opponents, held the Pirates out of this year’s tournament.
“All teams peak and I try to get my teams to peak towards the end of the season,” Kurt-Mason said. “But the first of the season counts as much as the end of the season.”
Coming close to qualifying for the playoffs shouldn’t be an issue next year for the Pirates. With Erickson as the lone senior on this year’s squad, Pagosa will have a strong and experienced varsity going into the 2011 season, with as many as nine seniors leading the team and several juniors and sophomores having logged substantial field time this year.
“Our chances are really good for next year,” Kurt-Mason said.
Fielding a seasoned, senior-heavy squad next year, Kurt-Mason’s words could prove prescient.