A reenergized Montezuma-Cortez Lady Panthers soccer team ran all over Palisade 3-1 at Johnson Field on Saturday morning in a nonconference game.
Spring break served M-CHS (4-3, 1-3 5A/4A Southwestern League) well, as key players were fully recovered from injury and illness, and the Lady Panthers took out their frustration on the visiting Lady Bulldogs (2-3-1).
We had a really good week of practice. Maybe the best week weve had in a long time. It was really strong, M-CHS coach Bobby Sitton said. They really hit the team concept hard this week, and marking, and playing team defense.
Senior forward Dominique Wilkin was aggressive from the get go and really set the tone early for her team. Wilkin had two opportunities for shots on the goal but stumbled in the box and had a shot deflected out of bounds. That deflected shot resulted in a corner kick from Brianna States that Baylee Lindsley knocked in the goal to give M-CHS a 1-0 lead. Thats where the score stood at halftime.
Once that first goal fell for us, it gave the girls the confidence to know that all the hard work that weve had and all the butt chewins theyve had, that it had paid off. You could just see them build off that first goal, Sitton said.
In the second half, it didnt take the Lady Panthers long to put a stranglehold on Palisade. Wilkins persistence paid off, and she scored her second goal of the season off an Allison Porter assist to give her team a 2-0 lead. Wilkin added another score off an assist from Ellen Koppenhafer and it was now 3-0.
M-CHS kept the Lady Bulldogs at bay, but Courtney Clark got by Lady Panthers goalkeeper Mariah Edwards in the final minute and found the back of the net for Palisade to avoid the shutout.
We gave up the cheap one at the end. For the way weve played all the way, I hate to see a letdown at any time. But Id rather have it in the last minute of the game than the first minute, Sitton said.
Sitton was very pleased with Wilkins play but really credits the defense for setting up each score.
It was the defensive pressure creating those goals, he said. Mariah Edwards and Michelle Leonard really anchored us in the backfield. Those two girls are a key part of this victory.
Edwards had 12 saves in the game.
Wilkin had two goals and five shots on goal. As a team, the Lady Panthers put 16 shots on goal.
Our practices weve been trying something new, Wilkin said. Weve been stopping a lot, going through positions and marking a lot. We were just working really good as a team, and I think were starting to figure out how to work together every day. This year were doing the best that weve done coming together. Period.
M-CHS has a quick turnaround when it plays at rival Durango tonight at 5.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com