The Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates soccer team, which still suffers from a shortage of players, demonstrated a lot of stamina this last week, taking on four tough teams within six days.
Coming off a 9-0 home victory over Ignacio the previous week, the girls started off this week with a 5-1 loss in Salida on Thursday. This game was supposed to be the first game of the season, but it was postponed until the Pirates could field enough qualified players.
The Salida game was followed by a 2-2 tie with Telluride on Friday and a 3-2 win over Ridgway on Saturday, both here at Golden Peaks Stadium. The week finished up with a 4-0 loss in Bayfield on Tuesday.
“We played in Salida on their new artificial turf,” coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason explained, “which lent to a fast paced game.”
Freshman Hayley Mitchell scored the first goal of the game, putting the Pirates in the lead.
“We had the upper hand with possession in the first half,” the coach said. However, the Spartans did manage to get one by Pirate goalie Maria Campuzano before the halftime whistle.
The Pirates continued to maintain control after the half, but couldn’t dominate possession of the ball all the way to the end.
“The last twenty minutes of the second half was a different story,” Kurt-Mason admitted. “Our defensive play began to falter. Salida took advantage … they scored four goals.”
Even though Salida managed to score five goals total, Campuzano still got credit for 18 saves.
In naming Mitchell player of the game, the coach said, “Hayley had a wonderful goal from thirty yards. She had a very solid presence in the middle of the field and was involved in most of our shots on goal.”
No other stats were available concerning which other Pirates, if any, put shots on the goal or offered assists.
The Pirates returned home to host the Telluride Miners the next afternoon.
“Telluride scored two goals in the first half of the game,” Kurt-Mason admitted. He explained they were still facing the same problem they had the previous day at the end of their game with Salida: “A lack of tight marking.”
However, things turned around and in the second half the Pirates came back and scored twice, sending the game into overtime.
“We had a talk at the half and made some adjustments and evened the score,” the coach explained.
By the end of the first overtime period neither team had managed to get one into the net, so the game went into a second overtime period, where, once again, both defenses dominated and the score remained tied at 2-2.
“The girls played both ten minute overtimes and came away with a tie,” Kurt-Mason admitted, “but to me it was a huge move in a positive direction.”
Sara Chronowski got two shots on the goal and managed to get one past the Telluride goalkeeper, while Fiona Romain scored the other goal for the Pirates off of three shots.
Johannah Laverty and Hannah Marnocha put additional pressure on the goalie with six shots and two shots, respectively.
“I have always been inspired by people who faced great challenges and setbacks in their lives,” the coach concluded, “but who have fought hard and achieved amazing comebacks.”
The next day, Saturday, the Pirates hosted the Ridgway Demons.
“Remember that this was the fourth game in five days,” Kurt-Mason pointed out, “and ten out of eleven girls were playing without a sub. Saturday morning we had twelve players to play Ridgway.”
The coach readily admitted the Demons are a formidable opponent under normal circumstances, but in this case the Pirates were forced to play them with two teammates missing for other obligations. In other words, the Pirates only had 12 players — 11 on the pitch at all times and only one held in reserve to sub for players as they got tired.
“After eighty minutes of play the score was tied,” the coach described. “If you believe in the ‘Amazing,’ it happened in the ninety-sixth minute when Johannah Laverty put in a beautiful corner kick to finish the game with a hat trick.”
A hat trick is defined as one player scoring three goals in one game, and Laverty got credit for all three of the Pirates goals during the Ridgway game.
Chronowski got credit for one assist during that final corner kick play six minutes into the second overtime period.
On the other end of the field, while the Demons did manage to score twice, there was evidence the rest of the Pirate defense was tightening up because Campuzano was only required to perform five saves.
Things turned the other way on Tuesday.
“The one stat that stands out is Maria’s (Campuzano’s) thirty-three saves,” Kurt-Mason commented to SUN staff on Wednesday morning. “She has made some great steps in improving her skills this past week. We measure our improvement in small steps, but last night Maria took a giant step in her play. She was stopping some very difficult shots through the air and on the ground. Her distribution of the ball was also much improved.”
No other stats were available as of press time.
“We played without Johannah (Laverty),” the coach continued, “which took a good forty minutes of adjusting. She has a sprained ankle and will be resting it for a week. She has been our leading scorer and playmaker.”
The Pirates will host the Alamosa Mean Moose on April 1, which is only five days from today.
“All in all I was very proud of the ‘grit’ that our girls have shown over the past week,” Kurt-Mason concluded. “It is a testament to their character to play through games with minimal subs and to keep such a high level of intensity going.”