Montezuma-Cortez High School boys soccer continues to kick in the right direction.
Head coach Gary Geppert has preached baby steps.
Although the Panthers came out on the wrong end of 5-1 loss last Saturday to Pagosa Springs, M-CHS definitely battled at Johnson Memorial Field.
Andrew Laymons goal in the 43rd minute cut the deficit to 2-1. The Panthers (1-3-1, 0-1 5A/4A Southwestern League) had plenty of other scoring opportunities to tie Pagosa Springs (3-1, 2-0 3A Region 5). But Pirates goalkeeper Quinn Smith plundered M-CHS of any more goals with superb play in front of the net. Smith seized 22 saves for the Pirates.
They had a good keeper, said Geppert, emphatically.
The Panthers had plenty of shots on goal, unlike last seasons 7-0 defeat at Pagosa Springs.
Were going to make a difference and an improvement in every game. We have essentially done that in every game, Geppert said. Last year, 7-0. This year, 5-1. (Its) a difference of three goals. Thats huge in my book and thats going to continue.
Five different players scored for the Pirates, who led 2-0 at halftime.
M-CHS played more aggressive in the second 40 minutes. It wasnt long before Taren Lanier found Laymon in front of the net. The birthday boy took advantage and fired a shot past Smith to get M-CHS back in the match.
We needed to step it up. We were better than this, said Laymon, a freshman. We were kind of cold that first half. Our fans started cheering and then we got into it. All of them cheering us on, it just helps us get in the game and get motivated.
The energized Panthers kept attacking with near misses on goal. Some shots sailed wide and many others were snared by the great hands of Smith.
M-CHSs missed opportunities was Pagosa Springs gain.
Diego Gutierrez sprinted ahead of the Panthers defense and booted a solo shot past Austin Hart in the 57th minute to give the Pirates a 3-1 advantage.
James Berndt got ahead of the Panthers three minutes later and netted a goal at the top of the net to make the score 4-1. The Pirates would tack on one more for the final margin.
You can only change so much in a little amount of time, Geppert said. As everybody can see, were improving quite a bit just from last year to this year, substantially.
Bridger Brenner snagged nine saves for M-CHS in the first half, while giving up two goals. Hart grabbed six saves and gave up three goals in the second half.
As a team, I thought our offense played well. Our defense struggled a little bit, Laymon said. That happens every now and then. You cant stop it. But overall, I think we did great and I think we can progress more. We only have one or two seniors.
The Panthers will step back into SWL play with a road trip to Montrose and Grand Junction on Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. M-CHS will pay Aspen in a nonconference match in Grand Junction at 2 p.m., Saturday.