After losing to Bayfield and Del Norte on their home field last weekend, members of the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls soccer team could have easily hung their heads.
But continuing a season-long trend of optimism, players chose to focus on their team’s improvements and what they hope will be a bright future.
“Our offense has definitely improved,” said junior Lyndi Belt. “A lot of our girls were hurt, but it’s good to have them back, and we’re doing a lot better.”
As if to give credence to Belt’s quote, the Lady Panthers put forth one of their better offensive performances of the season on April 21 when they lost to Del Norte in overtime, 2-1.
The loss followed a 6-0 loss to Bayfield on April 20 in a game that featured several defensive breakdowns by M-CHS and long periods of disjointed offensive play.
Bright spots did exist, however, as junior goalkeeper Ayanna Silas came through with several impressive saves, including two in the game’s 18th minute when she deflected a hard shot by Misty Helton toward the right side of the box and then punched a rebound shot from Hallie Loveday wide of the net.
Silas came through again in the 33rd minute when she punched a hard shot by Loveday over the crossbar to prevent what looked to be a sure Bayfield goal. Overall, Silas stopped 17 of Bayfield’s 23 shots in the game.
“(Playing goalkeeper) is different, and it’s scary, but it’s really fun,” said Silas, who has played in the midfield for much of the season. “I don’t even think when I make saves; I just do it. I play basketball, and I feel like those skills help me.”
In addition to solid play by Silas, the Panthers received a standout performance from senior Kacie Featherman, who made several fine defensive plays to prevent Bayfield goals. Featherman’s finest play came when she raced toward her own net to prevent a breakaway by Loveday and allow Silas to make a save.
M-CHS’s two best scoring opportunities came on free kicks by McKenzy Howerton from the top of the Bayfield box in the 27th and 30th minutes. Both shots sailed just high, however, and the Lady Panthers remained scoreless in the game.
Savanah Kaufmann scored three goals to lead Bayfield, and Misty Helton scored two goals for the Bobcats.
With its losses to Bayfield and Del Norte, M-CHS fell to 2-10-0 overall and 0-8-0 in league play. Next up for M-CHS will be a road matchup against Ridgway on April 24 at 4 p.m.
“We can definitely improve on our communication and connecting more passes,” said Belt. “Sometimes, we just boot the ball without thinking about where it’s going, and I think we can definitely improve on that.”