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Soccer team evens league record with two wins

Two big games this past week provided evidence that the Pirates are more than they’ve appeared to be.

Overcoming some rough starts and on the heels of two games that got away from them, the Pagosa boys stepped up in a big way, defeating the Center Vikings 5-0 last Thursday at home, while taming the Wolverines in Bayfield with a 6-1 victory.

Getting off to a slow start on mushy turf after Thursday’s rain, the Pirates held play on the Center side of the field, finally capitalizing on a long kick into the goal by Dustin Anderson with 13 minutes, 50 seconds left in the period. With several well-executed steals by Lars Schneider helping prevent the Vikings from launching any effective offense, the Pirates scored again with 3:45 left in the half on an outside kick from Matt Fisher.

“Our speed of play was very good,” said Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason. “Instead of playing their game, we were playing our game.”

Unrelenting, the Pirates continued to dominate in the second half. After a Center back made a pass to his own goalie, Pagosa’s Eli Stephens managed to capitalize on the Viking’s mistake, stepping into the box and scoring with a short shot with 34:37 left in the game.

Putting pressure on the Center goalie and continuing to keep the game away from their own goal, the Pirates scored again with 5:25 left on a quick chip shot from Schneider from within a swarm of Pagosa players. With less than two minutes to go, the Pirates sealed the deal, stopping a sudden Viking breakaway then driving to the Viking’s goal, scoring on a bullet from Sulley Smith and ending the game with a 5-0 victory.

“It was our passing game that won,” said Kurt-Mason, adding, “Everyone was very aggressive on the ball.”

Returning with similar intensity and aggression on Tuesday, the Pirates smashed the Wolverines 6-1 in Bayfield. Even though Kurt-Mason said, “Bayfield matched us in the first half, they played aggressively, physical,” the coach’s comments reflected a much different game.

Taking advantage of a penalty kick by Riley Searle just 3:20 into the game, the Pirates took an early lead. At 6:40, Bayfield managed to tie the score, but a Smith goal, finishing on a pass from Anderson gave Pagosa a 2-1 advantage at the end of the half.,

Making adjustments and spreading the field out, the Pirates shut down Bayfield in the second half. Taking an indirect kick from the 45-yard line, Ryan Searle set up Jacob Ormonde to put the ball in with a head shot, spreading Pagosa’s lead to 3-1.

At 59 minutes into the game, Ryan Searle nailed another goal on an assist from Fisher while, at 63 minutes in, Dean Hampton and Diego Gutierrez, combining on three consecutive plays, found the goal when Hampton took the shot on a drive set up by Gutierrez. Finally, at 70 minutes in, Ormonde scored on yet another header off a Fisher drive, giving the Pirates 6-1 victory in an important conference game.

Kurt-Mason credited the Pirates’ passing game and aggressive style in the victory against Bayfield, but also pointed to the team’s ability to shut down Bayfield standout James Tinnin, “one of the fastest players in the league,” Kurt-Mason said, “and such a gentleman.”

Although the coach identified Ormonde as the player of the game in Bayfield, he mentioned Pirate goalie Allen McIver as another game standout, saying, “Allen wasn’t challenged much except in the first half. He had three saves in that half and four in the second, but those were all long shots. Still, he owned the box.”

On Saturday, the 5-3 Pirates return to Golden Peaks stadium for a 1 p.m. game against the Farmington, N.M., Scorpions. The Pirates narrowly lost to the Scorpions in Farmington during the season opener. However, with a more seasoned and cohesive Pagosa team taking the field, the unbeaten Scorpions may find their visit a bit unpleasant.

On Tuesday, the Pirates take home field again at 4 p.m. for a conference game against the 4-2 Crested Butte Titans. With two losses to very good teams, the Titans will most likely not give the Pirates the game but, if the Pirates can beat Farmington on Saturday at home, the Titans might find they’ve travelled to deal with much more than they bargained for.

jim@pagosasun.com