Thu May 9th, 2019
Special to the Drum
As much as Ignacio had wanted to win their Senior Day match a week earlier, Del Norte wanted to win theirs perhaps even more when facing IHS Friday morning, May 3, at Alamosa High School.
And not simply because ten seniors were suiting up for their final ‘home’ contest in a season effectively spent on the road with facilities construction having consumed the Lady Tigers’ true home pitch.
Looking to avoid a catastrophic upset at the Lady Bobcats’ paws and maintain a top-ten spot in CHSAA’s Class 2A Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) standings in hopes of being named to the 12-team State Playoffs, DNHS got a first-minute goal from senior Sophia McConnell, assisted by junior Kaylie Metz, and never looked back in prevailing 9-0.
Senior Lacie Jones netted two goals and aided two others, junior Kendra Parra logged two goals and an assist, while McConnell would score once more during a fast-moving first half and also assist on Jones’ second strike—putting the Lady Tigers up 7-nil shortly before intermission.
“You know, Del Norte played amazing,” IHS head coach Alisha Gullion said. “They’ve definitely got a very strong…program, and I’m just glad we could come out here and compete with them, put up a fight.”
Seven days after smacking Center 4-1 at IHS Field—earning injury-battling Briana Duran a Senior Day triumph—and six after a less-intense 6-0 home loss to AHS, the Lady ’Cats indeed went out scrapping, though their finest moments came long after the 3A/2A Southwestern League match was all but decided.
Threatening to deny Del Norte a shutout late in the action, freshman Alexis Pontine went 1-v-1 with sophomore goalie Myka Glover and was only stopped by a spectacular save resulting in OOOOHs uttered by the home side’s supporters, and AHHHH-DANGs by the never-say-die visitors’.
“Lex and Caitlyn (Chapman) were clicking, Abbi (Barthel) in the center was working—we had a lot of really good things going on in this last game,” said Gullion. “It was nice because in other games it would be, like, Caitlyn up there against four defenders, and in this one I see four girls running up with her. It was pretty awesome.”
Keeper Jaylene Riepel unofficially totaled ten saves (Glover was credited with three) as Ignacio finished 2019 a fifth-place 2-8 against the SWL’s 2A members, 2-13 against all circuit opposition, and 2-13 overall.
“They fought hard to the very, very end, and that’s always been Ignacio Soccer; we never, ever give up,” Gullion said. “And you could see that…when we were down 9-zero, and my girls were on fire trying to put it in the back of the net, doing everything they can to stay in the game.”
“This year feels huge because we won two games, you know, and that hasn’t happened in a while,” she added. “We still have a lot that we need to work on, make a lot of growth in, but it just feels like each season we take a step up. We’re building a program.”
Having improved to a third-place 6-2-2 in 2A SWL play, 9-3-2 against the complete loop, and an impressive 10-3-2 overall wrapping up regular-season work, DNHS stood ninth—right behind Telluride, with fellow SWL force Crested Butte a strong sixth—in the RPI as of Monday morning, May 6. Later awarded the Playoffs’ No. 10 seed, the Lady Tigers were to play the following day against 7-seed Colorado Rocky Mountain School (8-2 overall) out of Carbondale.
ONE MORE FOR POSTERITY
Prior to the aforementioned April 26 rout of CHS, Briana Duran had a choice to make earlier in a week featuring three home matches in four days.
“So, on Tuesday they asked me ‘Do you want to play [versus Bayfield] on Wednesday?’” Duran recalled. “They’re such good competitors and every single time we play them we learn so much from them. So, it was so tempting for me to go play them, but I really, really wanted to play my Senior Day game.”
“It meant so much to me,” she continued. “Since I first got injured they kept telling me that if I played and got injured more, I wouldn’t be able to play again. I definitely gave it my all.”
Willing to bypass one last crack at BHS and just as willing to harbor hopes of playing Alamosa—if her body, specifically her left hip, felt up to the task “when…the adrenalin goes down”—Ignacio’s lone senior felt little pain after Amanda Henderson lofted a ball over Lady Viking goalie Violet Barton in the 18th minute to give IHS a 1-0 lead.
“I wanted to help our senior, Briana, get a win before she graduates,” said Henderson. “We were all working hard…to get (the ball) up there, and when I saw it I was like, ‘I’ll get it, I’ll get it!’ because Ebonee Gomez was going for it as well.”
“I shot it, and I was just hoping I would get it to the center, but…I was too excited, it went higher than I expected—and it went in! Dropped right in, and it was great!”
“It was so amazing!” Duran agreed. “All the girls…were doing everything we were talking about—going up on the wings, crossing it back in—and I was so proud to finally see…it in a game.”
After Riepel denied a Lady Viking penalty kick in the 26th minute, Center tied the score in the 27th when Giselle Almeida incredibly bent a corner kick into the net at Riepel’s back post. But Chapman scored in the 47th and 73rd, and Brianna Henderson then calmly cashed, from about 20 yards out, an intercepted Barton goal kick in the 76th to punctuate the victory.
“That was great,” grinned Amanda Henderson. “I was kind of looking, like, ‘Is she going to kick it?’ And then she kicked it…in, and it was amazing.”