Squaring off against a Ridgway High School team that many expect to compete for a Class 2A state title this season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School boys soccer team was outplayed from start to finish and lost 7-1.
Among the highlights produced by the Panthers during the loss Sept. 6 was an impressive goal by senior captain Alden Adams, who broke free of Ridgway’s defense in the 11th minute and dribbled down the left wing before drilling a hard shot into the upper right corner of the net.
Also providing several highlights for M-CHS was sophomore goalkeeper Trinidad McDonnell, who made several impressive saves and had the look of a veteran in spite of the fact that he began playing soccer earlier this year.
In spite of the Panthers’ highlights, however, the result of the contest was never in doubt as Ridgway senior Robert Baserra continually picked his way through M-CHS’ overmatched defense and scored a game-high six goals.
“He has great speed, he has great quickness, and he has fantastic ball-handling skills,” M-CHS manager Kevin McGarigal said about Baserra. “You saw him dribbling, he’s able to beat defenders ... and then he has fantastic composure when finishing. He’s a smart player, and he is kind of the full package.”
M-CHS scored its only goal of the contest when senior striker Alden Adams beat his defender down the left wing and fired a perfect shot into the upper-right corner of the net to cut his team’s deficit to 3-1 fourteen minutes into the game.
Consistent double-teams and triple-teams limited Adams’ effectiveness for the remainder of the contest, however, and M-CHS failed to generate any significant scoring opportunities for the remainder of the game.
“(Adams) brings the intensity and he brings the threat up front, but he oftentimes pulls two or three defenders to mark him and you saw that happen after he scored that first goal,” McGarigal explained. “We’re having trouble getting our team up in support. When (Adams) gets double-teamed and triple-teamed, we have to exploit that.”
While M-CHS’ offense found it nearly impossible to generate scoring opportunities, the Panthers defense and McDonnell managed to stymie Ridgway’s potent offensive attack on several occasions throughout both halves.
One of the most impressive plays of the contest came during the 47th minute when McDonnell fully extended his body while moving right to left and punched an unimpeded shot by Baserra just wide of the right goalpost.
“I was just trying to stay on my line,” McDonnell said. “I was going to move out, but he got closer and he took a shot. (The ball) went right and I deflected it out of bounds.”
After Ridgway carried a 3-1 lead into the halftime break, Baserra scored goals in the 42nd minute and 54th minute to make the score 5-1. The Ridgway senior then made a pretty drop pass to set up a score by junior Jonah Kornbluh before scoring the game’s final goal in the 56th minute.
Although the scoring onslaught by Baserra and his teammates seemingly unnerved M-CHS midway through the second half, players continued to play hard throughout the remainder of contest.
“The kids played hard and they didn’t give up,” McGarigal said. “They played right to the last minute, and they showed a lot of heart, which was good.”
With its record now at 0-3-0 three games into its season, M-CHS will return to the practice field in anticipation of home games against Crested Butte and Kirtland Central, on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14, respectively.
“We need to work together more and communicate more,” McDonnell said, when asked how his team can improve prior to its next contests. “We need to stay calm and get things rolling.”