Fri Mar 30th, 2018
Special to the Drum
IHS Soccer slogs through brutal stretch
Even when remembering Alisha Gullion’s instructions, her Lady Bobcats knew one self-decreed demand above all had to be met in order to at least survive, if not steal a road win Saturday, March 24, in Ridgway, Colo.
“The girls had one rule: Protect the goalie,” IHS’ first-year skipper stated in a post-match text message, noting that senior RaeAnn Martinez was unavailable for what ended up being a 3A/2A Intermountain [a.k.a. Southwestern] League doubleheader with the Lady Demons.
“I gave a ten-minute overview to Chamisa (Edd) and Victoria (Riehl) on how to play goalie, and they each stepped up and played one full game,” said Gullion. “The girls were exhausted. They fought hard, but I could tell those four had really taken their toll on them.”
Edd was in net for a 10-nil loss and Riehl followed suit in a 9-nil setback, but the ‘four’ Gullion mentioned referred to the number of matches Ignacio had just completed – Telluride had visited IHS Field the previous afternoon – in fewer than 24 hours.
She more than likely could have meant to say ‘five,’ considering Pagosa Springs had come to town Tuesday, March 20 – giving the Lady ’Cats five matches in as many days against postseason-minded opposition.
Ranked #10 in the preseason CHSAANow.com Class 3A poll, and arriving in Ignacio an ‘Others Receiving Votes’ bunch in the rankings’ 3/19 update, PSHS raced out to an 8-0 halftime lead before the home side recomposed itself and held the Lady Pirates scoreless after intermission.
Regulation time expired shortly after Lady ’Cat Caitlyn Chapman suddenly broke free for a 1-v-1 with keeper Hailey Griego and nearly spoiled the invaders’ shutout with what was only IHS’ fourth shot of the afternoon.
“We’ve been dubbed a ‘second-half team’ with our play,” said junior co-captain Lauren Gram. “But I think with these next games coming up, we’re really going to fight hard.”
“With each game I see more and more endurance … less subbing out for the girls that can really push it.”
Up one notch to No. 4 in the Class 2A poll, THS more or less mirrored Springs’ early onslaught and went into halftime up 7-0. And though the depth-blessed Lady Miners brought the match to a mercy-rule conclusion in the 56th minute, fatigue wouldn’t prove as cumbersome as one would have thought when the teams’ second clash commenced just 30 breeze-battered minutes later.
And judging by the squad’s celebration only eight minutes after kickoff, it appeared non-existent; no Lady Bobcat wanted to leave the artificial pitch with an unexpected 1-0 lead to protect.
Gaining speed and distance on her kick from a gusting tailwind, Gram booted what ended up being a goal from at least 35 yards out as the ball took a high bounce over backup goalie Lindsey Osborne near the front edge of Telluride’s penalty area and accelerated into the unguarded net.
“I was just hoping the wind would help me … and it did!” Gram said with an amazed laugh.
Alarmed at having given up a score, however, THS managed to pull even less than three minutes later with Samantha Morell out-striding Edd to beat Martinez for the fifth of her eight goals on the day. Having notched a shutout in Game 1 before donning a field player’s jersey in Game 2, first-string goalie Claire Shaver then gave the Lady Miners a 2-1 lead in the 19th minute by slipping a shot low to Martinez’s right and into the near-side corner.
Four more goals would follow before halftime, and Telluride’s Nikki Borland would secure an 11-1 win with a goal in the 66th. Still, the energy returning to the home-side bench was high and Ignacio (0-8, 0-8 IML) began looking ahead to the 2018 season’s first road match(es) the next day.
“It was crazy,” Gullion said, after the losses at Ridgway. “Both [Edd and Riehl] made some awesome saves, but you could tell they were super-nervous because of the lack of experience.”
“And it was funny because the ref came up to us after,” she continued, “and tried giving us advice for the goalies. We’re like, ‘This was the first time either has played goalie ever!’ And he’s like, ‘O.K., that makes so much more sense.’”
“Played hard, played aggressively, and we fought for that ball,” declared Gram. “I’m…proud of my team!”
“And there were no hung heads on the way home,” Gullion noted.
IHS will next see action at 4 p.m. Friday, April 6, in Gunnison against Crested Butte. After then traveling east out of Gunnison County to overnight in Salida, the Lady ’Cats will then travel south into the San Luis Valley the morning of the 7th to face Center in a much-anticipated doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.