Soccer team looks to improve
Coach hopes to install defensive philosophy
Sam Green/Cortez Journal
After a rough 2012 season that produced only one win, this year’s Montezuma-Cortez High School boys’ soccer team is eager to put past failures behind them. Led by first-year head coach Sean Fitzgerald, this year’s team will utilize a high-effort, defensive-minded approach, while attempting to compete with some of the league’s top teams.
“We’re looking pretty good,” explained Fitzgerald. “Our goals right now are to contend with the top teams and make it to playoffs. It will be a challenge for us, but these guys are putting forth great effort.”
Among the players leading the new effort-based approach are senior defenders, Briston Walker and Isaac Padilla. Both experienced and physical defenders, the seniors will look to stabilize MCHS’s back line.
“(Walker) and (Padilla) are big boys and their not afraid to go in for a tackle,” said Fitzgerald. “Our defense should be okay.”
“Our defense should be pretty good,” added Walker. “Last year, we had a pretty good defensive line and everybody is back.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers will look to junior forward Taren Lanier to put the ball in the back of the net.
“(Lanier) is a fast kid,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s only a junior, so we’ll have him for a couple of years. He’ll be one of our top players.”
In terms of what style of play fans might see from this year’s team, Fitzgerald stated, “I’m more of a defensive-minded coach. I was a defender in college. We’ll start from the back four and move up.”
After opening the season against Bayfield at home on Sept. 3, MCHS will play Delta at home on Sept. 6 and Telluride on the road on Sept. 7. Highlighting this season’s schedule will be a home showdown with rival Montrose on Sept. 20, and a home showdown with Durango on Oct. 1.
Although the team recognizes that this season’s schedule will be tough, there is a belief that, under Coach Fitzgerald, the group can be competitive.
“(Fitzgerald) is really good for us,” said Padilla. “He knows his stuff and he brings a lot to the team.”
“I’m just hoping to have a good season,” added senior goalie, Auston Hart. “I’m hoping to compete and stick with some of the Junction teams.”
Certainly a lofty goal, but with a new head coach and a new outlook, things may be looking up for MCHS boys’ soccer.