Opening its weekend with a home matchup against Crested Butte on Sept. 13, the Montezuma-Cortez High School soccer team started quickly before yielding three consecutive goals and losing by a score of 3-1.
Among the highlights for the Panthers was a goal by senior Alden Adams four minutes after the opening whistle, which came after junior Rodrigo Marquez fired a hard shot toward the goal, and a penalty kick was awarded after Crested Butte was called for a hand ball in the box.
Looking calm and collected as he prepared to take the penalty kick, Adams took a few deep breaths before quickly approaching the ball and firing a hard shot into the lower left corner of the net to put his team ahead 1-0.
“I think we just came out with confidence,” Adams said. “On penalty kicks, you just have to be calm. You can’t show where you’re going to go, and you just have to have confidence to put it away.”
Inspired by their early goal and showcasing the type of speed and dribbling ability that has been lacking for much of the season, the Panthers controlled the pace of play for much of the next 15 minutes and appeared to be the superior team.
A goal by Crested Butte senior Chris Myers during the 16th minute stymied M-CHS’ momentum however, and after Crested Butte senior Henry Bryndal followed up with a goal of his own in the 30th minute, the Panthers found themselves behind 2-1.
“Our goal got our heads up, and then (Crested Butte) scored, and it went downhill again,” Adams said. “We need to work on finishing our halves.”
“The big letdown was that we weren’t maintaining our shape on the attack,” M-CHS head coach Kevin McGarigal said. “We weren’t getting our defense up behind the attack and locking the ball in. We had too much space, and they were exploiting it.”
Although M-CHS struggled to generate scoring opportunities throughout the second half and saw its best opportunity to put the ball in the net slip away when Adams lobbed a 20-yard free kick into the arms of Crested Butte’s goalie near the left post, the Panthers defense played well.
Crested Butte’s only goal of the second half came when freshman Jamis Matlock fired an impressive free kick into the back of the net from 40 yards to give his team a 3-1 lead.
This game, compared to other games, was a totally different game for our team,” M-CHS senior defender Tyler Cutrone said. “We’re progressing so much as a team, but we have a long way to go.”
“What I liked is that our kids came out and played strong,” McGarigal said. “They were pressuring the ball and winning the ball with sequences of passes. Compared to the first time we played (Crested Butte), 100 percent improvement.
M-CHS followed up its loss to Crested Butte with a 4-0 home loss to Kirtland Central High School on Sept. 14.
With its record now at 0-5-0 on the season, M-CHS will return to its practice field to prepare for a home matchup against Telluride, which will take place in Cortez on Sept. 17.