Just two minutes into the match against the Alamosa Mean Moose, M-CHS senior Skyler Yarbrough had possession deep in Alamosa territory looking for an opening.
Yarbrough began to make a move but slipped. Luckily, he was able to stable himself and send a rolling pass into the box to sophomore Juan Para.
Para took the ball, made a defender miss and then sent a shot by the Alamosa keeper to put M-CHS up 1-0 in the early goings.
However, the Mean Moose wasted little time responding.
Three minutes after Para’s score, Octavio Villasenor sent a penalty kick just out of the reach of M-CHS goalkeeper Davian Robinson and off the post and into the left corner of the goal to knot the match at one.
It was the same song and dance later in the first.
In the 14th minute, Para blasted a shot from the top of the box that ricocheted off an Alamosa player. The deflection caused the ball to spin wildly, and when it came down and bounced off the ground the English propelled the ball up and over the Alamosa keeper’s head and into the net.
But again, the Mean Moose answered quickly, this time on a Moises Jaurez breakaway score to even things at two.
Robinson came up with multiple saves in the first half, including a sliding stop in the 32nd minute to erase an Alamosa attempt. But Alamosa sophomore Rolondo Mendoza was able to fight through crowds and score in the box on two separate occasions late in the half to send the Mean Moose to the break with a 4-2 lead.
“We just sat back on our heels again,” said M-CHS head coach Sean Fitzgerald. “I think we played the first ten minutes decent, but then the next 30 were slow. We got a goal, but the amount of mistakes, not passing to feet, giveaways, the fifty-fifties – everything.”
“The second half was much better,” he continued. “But we also changed up the formation to try to attack them.”
Fitzgerald also noted the play of Skyler Yarbrough.
Yarbrough was instrumental in the Panthers’ attack throughout the contest from his midfielder position. The senior read lanes and pushed the ball ahead to create opportunities; sometimes by dribbling his way upfield, and other times by sending passes ahead to teammates.
In the 69th minute, though, it was Para that played creator.
After moving into Alamosa territory, Para sent a ball between two defenders and right to cutting freshman Alden Adams, who chipped in a goal to pull the Panthers within one.
The M-CHS defense also played much better in the second half, and Robinson kept everything out of the net and finished with 6 saves.
But after trimming Alamosa’s lead to one, the home team was unable to muster a game-tying goal in the final minutes as the Mean Moose held on to win 4-3.
M-CHS (1-10, 0-9 Intermountain League) has three road games left on the season.
And while they are statistically eliminated from postseason play, Fitzgerald said that his team can still play spoiler and knock other teams out of playoff contention as well.
The Panthers play at Ridgway (6-3, 6-3 IML) on Friday and at Telluride (6-5-1, 5-4-1 IML) on Saturday.