Thu Jun 6th, 2019
Special to the Drum
Already unafraid of getting her hands dirty on a field or at a farm— Rylee Pearson and her older sister both raise and travel the country showing their pigs— Pearson’s tolerance for pain was definitely another trait which served her well in net as she’d face enemy shots by the bunch.
Ultimately sidelined during the 2019 soccer season’s last couple weeks by an ankle wrenched more seriously than even she could stand, her absence was verbally noted to head coach Alisha Gullion by both opponents and officials—a clear indication the energetic sophomore had earned respect across the length and breadth of the 3A/2A Southwestern League this spring.
And when the All-SWL Teams were recently announced, the Ignacio goalie—who’d wear beneath her keeper’s jersey a layer formerly blood-stained around one shoulder, a result of a pre-Spring Break save in which she smothered both the ball and a missing goal-frame screw…and hardly felt the puncture—was included as a Second Team selection.
“I washed it…. It’s now my ‘good-luck’ shirt!” she joked after the Lady Bobcats hosted Del Norte on April 12. “One of the screws fell out of our net, and I landed right on it. Went through my shoulder and just through and down.”
“At first…I had trouble picking a girl because they all had these shining moments throughout the season,” Gullion said, alluding to her decision on which of her players to nominate for postseason props after finishing 2-13-0 overall. “Then Rocky [Cundiff], IHS Athletic Director, asked me which girl was MVP on the field and who it was most difficult to be without.”
“When he put it that way, the clear answer was Rylee,” she stated. “You could see how much the team relied on her every game. She would make an amazing save and the whole energy on the field would spike.”
Even when the field sneakily spiked her.
“I feel we have a fighting chance,” said Pearson, “if we are ready to win…have the mindset of us winning.”
Joining Pearson as Second Team picks from amongst the SWL’s 2A crews were Crested Butte Community School’s Emmie Houseman and Rachel Potoker, Telluride’s Margaux Lovely and Niki Borland, DNHS’ Triniti Rivera, Ridgway’s Samantha Scherner and Center’s Giselle Almeida. Representing the 3A squads as Second Team selections were Bayfield’s Maddy Oltmanns, Montezuma-Cortez’s Paige Yarbrough, Alamosa’s Melody Lipke and Pagosa Springs’ Nicole Bartz.
First Teamer Karina Davalos was chosen SWL Player-of-the-Year after helping lead CBCS—skippered by Coach-of-the-Year Julia Kidd—to dominant Class 2A State Tournament wins over Colorado Springs-based Thomas MacLaren School and Loveland Classical High School, before a loss in the semifinals to Lafayette-based Dawson School left the Lady Titans, including additional First Team picks Tess Fenerty and Siena Truex, an outstanding 14-3-1.
Sharing Goalkeeper-of-the-Year status were Claire Shaver of Telluride (12-5-0; lost in the 2A quarterfinals to Denver Christian) and Trista Tulley of Pagosa Springs (6-8-2; lost in the 3A Tournament’s opening Round-of-32 to Colorado Academy, the Denver-based eventual State Champions). Shaver and Lady Miner ’mate Sam Morrell were also voted First Team All-SWL along with BHS’ Halle Loveday, PSHS’ Morgan Thompson, M-CHS’ McKenzy Howerton, RHS’ Finn Doherty and Del Norte teammates Kendra Parra and Grace Whitehorn.
From the Lady Bobcats’ end-of-season banquet, Gullion forwarded along a list of extra recognitions:
Junior Caitlyn Chapman received proverbial ‘Golden Boot’ status for being IHS’ leading scorer, and freshman Alannah Gomez the Strong Center for her play in central midfield. To nobody’s surprise, backup goalie Jaylene Riepel received the I’ve Got Your Back award for her late-season efforts after Pearson was benched, while freshman Alexis Pontine picked up the Black Widow award.
“She was deadly wherever I put her on the field,” quipped Gullion.
Sophomore Ebonee Gomez capped her first varsity soccer season earning the Defensive Net award for “always having everyone’s back.” Brianna Henderson deservedly received the Fancy Feet award for ball control on the pitch, while Amanda Henderson walked out with the Winger Award for two-way contributions made as an outside midfielder or “winger.”