Montezuma-Cortez starting goalkeeper Elena Cosner needed to make just one nonshot save during the first half of Thursday’s 3A/2A Intermountain (aka Southwestern) League match. And when head coach Sam Edgerton elected to insert Ayanna Silas after intermission, there was little to indicate she’d need to do even that much work.
Visiting Ignacio had already appeared to have exhausted their afterburners during an opening 13 minutes, amid Edgerton’s reminders, “Play your game! Not their game!” But after Lady Panther sophomore Aaliya Rendon netted the icebreaking goal in the 14th minute, and fellow soph McKenzy Howerton followed with emphatic goals in the 19th, 21st and 28th minutes, it was evident that M-CHS would rule the day.
And up 6-nil on Senior Day after Rendon scored breakaway goals past helpless Lady Bobcat keeper Rylee Pearson in the 30th and 38th minutes, Edgerton decided it was time to experiment a little with his roster.
“We really just wanted to change it up and give different players different positions in the second half, since it was the last game,” he said. “We wanted Elena to get some time in the field, see her foot skills. She showed us what she had, and it was pretty amazing!”
So was Silas’ play in net. And in particular, when it absolutely had to be.
Able to slide and smother an Abbi Barthel breakaway chance in the 55th minute, before Ignacio freshman could fully put boot to ball, Silas then leaped to snare Caitlyn Chapman’s 56th-minute shot – the reinvigorated visitors’ best opportunity until Lauren Gram forced her way around junior Lyndi Belt to snap the shutout in the 76th minute.
“Ayanna ... works hard for everything she has out there. She’s a natural athlete, and she knows the instincts in basketball and soccer are very much alike,” said Edgerton. “She just has those instincts to ... go get the ball!”
“The very first time we had her in goal, she was a little scared,” he recalled. “But after she got used to it ... she’s not even worried about it. Not scared at all.”
Junior Johanna Ruiz, in the 44th minute, and senior Hailey White, via a 47th-minute cleanup of a Pearson-denied Kacie Featherman attempt, accounted for Montezuma-Cortez’s seventh and eighth goals as M-CHS finished a hard-hit 2018 campaign standing 3-13 overall – 3-13 against the circuit and 0-6 versus its 3A members.
“They knew they needed to end the season off with a ‘W,’ so they worked hard for it. They deserved it. ... Worked hard all season and never gave up. No matter how beat-down we were, they just kept battling and kept battling,” Edgerton said.
“As a whole ... it was definitely a learning experience, but it was fun!” he added, reflecting on his first season as M-CHS skipper. “We had lots of major injuries to major girls, which really affected our season, but like I said, the girls have lots of fight and never gave up. Which made me keep battling on.”
Ignacio finished Alisha Gullion’s maiden spring at the helm 0-15 overall, 0-15 in league and 0-10 versus its 2A side. After losing to M-CHS, the Lady Bobcats lost 8-3 the next morning at emerging power Del Norte (11-4 overall in only its second varsity season).