Allison Porter found senior captain Dominique Wilkin for a first half goal, and it was all smiles on senior day at Johnson Field for the Montezuma-Cortez High School Lady Panthers soccer team on Thursday.
However, Durango (8-5-2, 6-1-2 4A Southwestern League) scored three unanswered goals to win its fifth-straight game, 3-1, dealing M-CHS (7-8, 2-8 4A SL) a monumental blow to its post-season hopes.
M-CHS led 1-0 at halftime and controlled the tempo for the first 40 minutes of play, as eight senior Lady Panthers were recognized (Brianna States, Danielle Lopez, Wilkin, Michelle Leonard, Mariah Edwards, Gina Bartolino, Rowtinya Marshall and Sara Gray).
We out shot them, we outplayed them. It was a great team effort, M-CHS coach Bobby Sitton said about the first half. We were moving the balls really well. We were doing everything as we needed to.
Reminiscent of the first rivalry game at Durango on April 12, the Lady Panthers battled the first 40 to a scoreless first half, but then the Lady Demons countered in the second.
On Thursday, M-CHS kept good pressure on the visitors to start the second half and had a couple chances on goal. Then Blair Swearingen scored the equalizer for Durango on a free kick that goalkeeper Danielle Waltman misjudged, and the ball bounced through her fingertips. The Lady Demons had a renewed sense of energy, while the Lady Panthers looked shell shocked.
After that, the girls just kind of fell apart. They lost their composure Sitton said. We started reacting, rather than kind of taking it to them. We just never really could settle back down.
About five minutes later, the Lady Demons took the lead for good when Stephanie Wilson assisted Marlene Conner, who got behind the defense and found the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Waltman gave up one more goal when Amanda Jones shot from 20 yards snuck through Waltmans legs, for what would be the final score.
She was feeling the pressure on that one. She just lost her concentration on that one, Sitton said about his sophomore goalkeeper giving up that last goal. But man she came up huge in the first half. She had a ton of nice saves and did really well. She was very strong for us throughout that first half, as was the entire team.
The loss ends a regular season that was full of ups and downs for M-CHS, including the loss of Leonard and Edwards to season-ending injury.
I think it started off as an emotional day, anyway, just because it was senior night, States said. I think we held them and did what we needed to do the first half, and something snapped the second half, and we couldnt keep up with what we needed to.
The Lady Panthers need help to make the 4A state playoffs. Since they beat Palisade 3-1 at home on April 9, a Palisade loss or tie to Steamboat Springs on Friday would punch M-CHSs playoff ticket.
I have been playing with these girls since I was 9 years old, States said about her fellow seniors. To know that we ended on a loss is kind of hard. Going into playoffs in our senior year, nonetheless, that would be like, phenomenal. It would be a good way to like, say Hurrah and Bye to all of them.
Results of the Palisade-Steamboat Springs game werent available at press time. The 4A playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at firstname.lastname@example.org.