After dominating play throughout the second half of its 2-1 loss to Telluride on April 4, the Montezuma-Cortez High School soccer team finally broke through when McKenzie Howerton scored in the 80th minute.
Although Howerton’s late tally was not enough to lift the Lady Panthers to victory, it did inject the team with confidence and forged a belief among players that M-CHS will be able to compete with any opponent as the season progresses.
“I think we just really got pumped up, and we really wanted that game,” senior Lyndi Belt said. “We turned the intensity up, and we really fought. We won that second half, and we are getting better every game and limiting our mistakes.”
While the second half of the contest was an excellent one for M-CHS, the first 40 minutes of the game proved difficult as Telluride controlled possession on its offensive end and kept Lady Panthers’ defenders under constant pressure.
An early goal by Samantha Morell put Telluride ahead 1-0, and a second score by the junior after a nifty move along the end line and a subsequent shot from an impossible angle put Telluride ahead 2-0.
M-CHS played like a different team throughout the second half, however, and generated its first legitimate scoring opportunity in the 45th minute when Howerton fired a hard corner off the side of the net.
A perfect crossing pass by Belt three minutes later scooted through the Telluride box and just missed the feet of several Lady Panthers’ players, including Howerton, who would have almost certainly scored had she been able to touch the ball.
“I just want to stay wide and try to stay open for those long balls,” Belt said. “I try to get a lot of crosses into the middle. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities accept for the last bit where we scored.”
Howerton’s goal came in the 80th minute after Howerton received a pass and streaked down the left side before firing a hard shot past Telluride’s goalkeeper and into the lower right corner of the net.
Although M-CHS did its best to generate a scoring chance after Howerton’s score, the referees whistle blew within 30 seconds signifying the end of the game. In spite of the loss, however, Lady Panthers’ players were pleased with their team’s play during the second half.
“The first half was a little rough, but the second half, we started playing to feet and we controlled the ball a little better,” sophomore goalkeeper Paige Yarbrough said. “We were able to get better looks.”
M-CHS followed up its loss to Telluride with a 2-1 victory over Del Norte High School on April 6. Next up for the Lady Panthers will be a home matchup against Ignacio, which will take place April 13.