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Pirates defeat Center 7-0, two home matches this week

While the majority of the stats for the Pagosa Springs High School boys soccer team are favorable, the overall picture they paint is not.

Walking away from the long weekend with a 1-1 record, the Pirates are 2-3 on the season, despite outscoring their opponents 20-11 over five games.

Traveling to Alamosa Thursday, the Pirates looked strong as the whistle blew, almost scoring in the first minutes of the game on a pass by Dean Hampton that allowed Quinn Smith to make a run at the goal, said Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason.

“From that point on, we got a couple of bad calls against us and it kind of put us on our heels,” Kurt-Mason said, noting that Alamosa worked the ball well throughout the game and the Pirates struggled transitioning from defensive to offensive postures.

Down 3-0 as the first half waned, Eli Stephens ensured that the Pirates wouldn’t take a nil score into the second half, putting the ball into the goal with about a minute left on the clock.

Pagosa continued to pressure Alamosa until the whistle.

“It was fairly even in the second half, so we adjusted,” Kurt-Mason said of the team’s work on controlling the defensive-offensive transition, adding that he told the team to not concentrate on scoring.

In the second half, Alamosa tallied an additional goal, finishing the game 4-1 over the Pirates.

Welcoming the Center Vikings to Golden Peaks Stadium Saturday, the Pirates looked to rebound from their loss two days earlier, and controlled much of the game’s play.

After a series of shots in the game’s sixth minute, Stephens, assisted by Smith, gave Pagosa an early 1-0 — the only lead they would need.

In the 30th minute, Smith volleyed the ball over the Viking goalie to end the first-half scoring, though the Pirates continued to fire off shots, totaling 18 in the first half by Pagosa.

At the half, Kurt-Mason said he urged the team to continue their focus on width, depth and team shape — not scoring — adding that the goals would come with the improved play.

In the second half, the Pirates fired more shots than in the first half, 21, connecting with the back of the goal on five.

Minutes into the half, Smith, assisted by Will Brown, struck with his second goal of the day, another goal characterized more by finesse than power.

A minute later, after a series of shots left the Center goalkeeper away from the net, Pirate Lars Schneider fired an unlucky shot that hit the post.

With a little over 33 minutes remaining in the game, Pirate keeper Zerek Jones made a save, quickly returning the ball to play and eventually to Garek Erskine, who scored about 20 seconds later.

Again following a Jones save, the Pirates scored with about 27 minutes left in the half, this time with Dean Hampton tallying the goal.

With Center adjusting defensively and employing two sweepers, Pagosa continued tallying shots, but without scoring again until just over nine minutes remained in the game, when Erskine scored his second goal of the day.

The Pirates quickly took control of the ball again, with Smith pressuring Center with a wide shot a minute later.

With seven minutes left in the game, Smith completed his second hat trick of the season, giving Pagosa its final mark of 7-0, but not without providing more offensive pressure and shooting.

More important to Kurt-Mason than the goals, however, was the confident play by the Pirates, shown in their dropping the ball back 36 times, which Kurt-Mason said opened the game for the team, allowing players to focus on possession in the second half.

On the day, Hampton had three assists and Erskine’s performance, including two goals, led Kurt-Mason to say he played the best game of his career.

“We have all the pieces, we just need to put them together all at once,” Kurt-Mason said.

Following his two hat tricks and one other goal, Smith ranks 12th in scoring in the state and sixth among 3A players with 17 points scored on seven goals and three assists in the first five games of the season for an average of 1.4 goals per game.

Next up, the Pirates look to begin a winning streak as they host league opponent Lake City Community High School at 4 p.m. Friday.

The next day, Pagosa matches up against another league foe in Crested Butte Community School at 11 a.m. at Golden Peaks Stadium.