The Montezuma-Cortez High School soccer team defeated Ridway 6-2 at home on Aug. 26 to improve to 2-0-0 on the year.
The victory gives the Panthers their first back-to-back wins since 2010.
Keying the Panthers win were offensive performances by seniors Taren Lanier and Alex Fernandez, junior Andrew Laymon and sophomore Manuel Martinez
Lanier scored the game’s first goal by heading an Andrew Laymon corner kick into the right side of the net in the game’s first minute.
The Panthers struck a second time 12 minutes later, thanks to Martinez, who broke away and chipped the ball into the Ridgway net to give M-CHS a 2-0 lead.
Continuing to pour it on in the 22nd minute, the Panthers scored for the third time when sophomore Jesus Ruiz collected a loose ball inside the box and drove it into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Although a miscue by Panthers goalie Bridger Brenner allowed a soft shot by Kikito Meraz to find the back of the net, the Panthers extended their lead to 4-1 just before the halftime on Lanier’s second goal of the game.
Lanier went on to score two more goals early in the second half to put M-CHS ahead 6-1. Both goals came after Lanier collected loose balls inside the box and fired them home.
“For the most part, we played pretty good,” said the senior. “It feels awesome to win. I have high hopes (for the season).”
After Ridgway’s Joshua Zaugg scored in the game’s 71st minute, M-CHS’s victory was never in doubt.
While several players changed shoes and prepared to head home, M-CHS coach Sean Fitzgerald discussed several aspects of his team’s performance.
“I felt like the first half and most of the second half was really good,” said Fitzgerald. With our forwards, there is something clicking there that is just phenomenal.”
Defense and bench play remain a concern for Fitzgerald as the Panthers prepare for a road matchup against Alamosa High School on Friday, Aug. 29.
“I’m a little disappointed at the gap between our 14 (top players) and our bench,” said Fitzgerald. “Our defense needs to learn to talk, and they need to learn quick.”