Nate Ross' Lady Panthers soccer team, which includes six Dolores students, emphasizes defense.
Montezuma-Cortez High School showed off some offensive fireworks Tuesday afternoon at Johnson Field.
Behind three goals from Allison Porter, the offense rolled and the defense was dominant in a 4-1 Lady Panthers win over 3A Telluride.
"We've got a good roster this year," coach Ross said. "Every girl on my roster is a soccer player. They're very coachable and that's what I love about these girls. They always want to learn and so we're just taking it one step at a time."
M-CHS (1-1-1) is literally a second away from being unbeaten. After a season opening 0-0 tie last Friday at Grand Junction Central, it appeared the Lady Panthers were heading to a 0-0 tie at Montrose last Saturday.
A last second shot on goal by Montrose was initially saved by Brianna Funk with one second remaining in double overtime.
However, after an official review, the referees decided the ball indeed crossed the goal line, giving Montrose the win.
"We're playing well. We've had a good preseason," Ross said. "We've been focusing on fitness quite a bit. The girls are fit. Defensively, we're playing well."
M-CHS continued its stout defense against Telluride (0-1). But it showed it can light up the scoreboard when the offense is clicking. Things really clicked in the Lady Panthers' home opener, especially for Porter.
"It's helps a lot to be on our home field," the senior said. "I think the confidence level is way up. Everyone is kind of settled because it's where we practice, where we're fit and we know the field."
Porter broke free on the right side in the 17th minute, split two defenders and launched a perfect kick 30-feet out that sailed over the Miners' goalkeeper's hands.
With M-CHS up 1-0, Telluride quickly responded.
A Miners striker found a loose ball on the left side and booted a shot over Danielle Waltman's reach to knot the game 1-1 in the 19th minute.
The teams played even for a while before the Lady Panthers started to attack.
M-CHS freshman Wesley Kirks penetrated the defense and was tripped up by a Telluride defender, setting up a penalty shot.
The team captain confidently kicked the ball over the Miners' defensive wall. The soaring shot fell in the top left corner of the net to give the Lady Panthers a 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute.
That's where the score stood at halftime.
"I think I've improved quite a bit," said Porter about her shots on goal. "Over the years, I always used to be the one that cranked it right in front of the goal and just shoot it over. After you settle and get into your zone, you kind of learn that it's easier."
Porter and M-CHS didn't letup after the break.
Senior Abby Engel broke free in the 41st minute and passed ahead to Porter. With only one girl to beat, Porter slipped the ball past the goalie on the right side to complete the hat-trick. M-CHS now had a 3-1 cushion.
Youngster Gabby Wolf put an exclamation point on the match, scoring a breakaway goal in the 56th minute for the final margin.
"I'm doing a lot of focusing offensively," Ross said. "(It's) being able to control tempo, being able to be patient in that final third, so that we're able to get high percentage shots as opposed to just shots on goal."
The Lady Panthers play today at Johnson Field, hosting 3A Bayfield (1-0) at 4 p.m.