Playing under cloudy skies that let loose a light drizzle just before halftime, the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls soccer team scored two early goals before settling for a 2-2 tie with Ridgway High School on April 23.
While the ultimate result felt like somewhat of a letdown for the Lady Panthers, players could not help but be appreciative of a stellar opening half that featured numerous scoring opportunities and ended with M-CHS leading 2-0.
The first of the Lady Panthers’ goals came in the sixth minute when freshman midfielder Allie Kibel sent a high-arching corner kick into the box, where it found the foot of freshman Olivia Cosner and was hammered home.
Clearly elated with her score, Cosner sprinted toward midfield and flashed a wide smile to home fans before being congratulated by teammates and serenaded with cheers from the large crowd in attendance.
“Ali Kibel took the corner kick and it was pretty frantic, I’m not going to lie,” Cosner said. “One thing led to another, the ball came right towards me, I saw an opening, and I tapped it in. It was a good pass (by Kibel).”
Continuing to apply pressure after their early goal, M-CHS struck again in the 13th minute when Kibel broke free in the middle of the field and dribbled the ball 25 yards before finding junior McKenzie Howerton, who drilled a hard shot from the left side of the box into the top right corner of the net.
“We were just looking to get it across the goal and McKenzie was right there when I passed it,” Kibel said. “We got it in and we were able to take a 2-0 lead.”
The impressive strike put M-CHS ahead 2-0, and for the remainder of the half, Kibel, Howerton and their teammates continued to apply pressure to Ridgway’s defense while setting up several scoring opportunities.
While the first half cast the allusion that the Lady Panthers would dominate from start to finish, Ridgway took the field with renewed energy in the second half and slowly shifted momentum over the first 20 minutes.
Ridgway then found the net for the first time in the 66th minute when senior Samantha Scherner fired a long shot from 35 yards out that was not picked up by M-CHS goalkeeper Paige Yarbrough and found the back of the net.
One minute later, Ridgway struck again when Yarbrough fumbled a soft shot and the ball was collected by sophomore Maisy Gardiner and tapped into an empty net to knot the score at 2-2.
“We were ahead and I think that kind of got in our heads,” Cosner said. “We let up on a few passes. There were just simple things that we weren’t on top of and that got the best of us. We were tired and the rain did not help.”
After neither team scored during the remainder of regulation time, Ridgway nearly scored five minutes into the first overtime when junior Ashley Medina fired a hard shot past Yarbrough and off the left post.
M-CHS produced a similar experience during the eighth minute of the second overtime when Cosner fired a shot through the hands of Ridgway goalkeeper Lydia Van Arsdell, which deflected off the cross bar.
“That was really unfortunate; we had like three shots on goal (during overtime),” Cosner said. “The goalie was able to bounce back and forth and we did our best to persevere and just keep shooting.”
While Lady Panthers’ players showed mixed emotions after the contest, Kibel indicated that players are happy with their team’s progress and hopeful that they can close out their season with wins.
With its record now at 4-5-2 overall and 1-4-1 in the Intermountain League, M-CHS will close out its season with a home game against Alamosa High School today and a home game against Bayfield High School on April 30.
“Our mindset is pretty good,” Kibel said. “We want to come out with wins in the last two games of our season. We’re hoping to improve on our record.”