Panthers soccer making strides
M-CHS shows improvement in consecutive losses
Between the start of the 2011 season and the start of the 2013 season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys’ soccer program was a disaster as the team won only two games and was outscored 212-18.
And while the 2013 season has yet to yield improvements in Panthers’ win-loss column, the team’s ability to remain somewhat competitive is encouraging.
Playing at home against the black-clad Grand Junction Tigers on Sept. 19, the Panthers managed to keep things close before eventually losing by a score of 4-1.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the game got off to an inauspicious start as Grand Junction forward Kevin Villar’s pretty left-footed shot from just outside the box found the back of the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the game’s third minute.
The Panthers defense quickly regrouped however, and after a series of strong defensive plays and some great saves by Panthers’ goalie Bridger Brenner, the score remained 1-0 in favor of the Tigers entering halftime.
Looking to continue their strong play in the second half, the Panthers defense initially held strong before yielding a penalty-kick goal to Villar in the game’s 52nd minute after a disputed foul call against senior defender Isaac Padilla that drew objections from Panthers’ home crowd.
The Tigers struck again a mere three minutes later when Sam Flynn collected an arrant crossing pass inside the Panthers’ goalie box and banged the ball home to put the Tigers ahead 3-0.
Describing his team’s successive defensive breakdowns in the second half, Brenner said, “We were talking and having good defensive movement in the first half. In the second half, our marks sort of collapsed. We have to keep those marks tighter and have more communication.”
Down by three and looking for some offense, the Panthers finally came through in the 65th minute after Andrew Laymon collected a beautiful long pass from Padilla and fired a low shot into the left corner of the net to make the score 3-1.
“This is the third time that Padilla and I have hooked up,” said Laymon. “What I was happy about is that I didn’t freak out when I saw that it was just me and the goalie.”
“(Laymon’s) composure was first-class,” said Panthers head coach Sean Fitzgerald. “A lot of people could miss that kind of shot. I was impressed.”
Although Tigers’ forward Taylor Meer added one final goal on a beautiful header off a crossing pass in the 70th minute to make the score 4-1 in favor of the Tigers, the Panthers were not altogether displeased.
“I think it was decent,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s better. We’re making strides, and as a younger team that hasn’t come off of the best of seasons, strides are good.”
Problems against Montrose
Hoping to continue making strides against the Montrose Indians on Friday, Sept. 20, the Panthers ran into a roadblock, falling by a score of 9-0.
With the game tied 0-0 after nine minutes, the Indians scored their first goal after a hard shot ricochet off Brenner, onto and off the foot of an Indians forward and into the back of the net.
Montrose scored its second goal in the 18th minute after Brenner badly misjudged a long bouncing shot and its third goal in the 19th minute on a well-placed shot just under the Panthers’ crossbar.
The Indians onslaught continued in the following minutes and after goals in the 30th and 38th minutes, the score favored the Indians 4-0 going into the half.
Playing the second half against a new Panthers’ alignment, the Indians continued their domination, scoring in the 48th, 54th, 64th, 66th, 68th and 70th minutes to go ahead 9-0.
Among the few highlights for the Panthers in the second half were two beautiful defensive plays by defender Kaleb Burris and two nice saves by backup goalie Ian Roberson.
“We had great hustle,” said Burris. “I liked a little bit of the talking. It was a good game to play. (Based on) what Montrose showed today, they are a decent team.”
With their season record now at 1-5-0, the Panthers will look to continue to improve on the road against Grand Junction Central (Sept. 26) and Fruita Monument (Sept. 27).