Dropping below the .500 mark this past week, the Pirates soccer team has one last chance to qualify for the state playoffs when they host league rivals Bayfield at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Golden Peaks Stadium.
With a narrow 2-1 loss in Telluride on Friday, another narrow 1-0 loss in Delta against the Ridgway Demons (on a questionable call) the next day and yet another 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Durango Demons JV squad in Pagosa Springs on Tuesday, the Pirates need a win over the Bayfield Wolverines tomorrow to squeak into the playoffs.
Traveling to Telluride last Friday, the Pirates looked poised to take a comeback victory against the Miners. Down 2-0 at the end of the second half, the Pirates came back just five minutes into the second half with a goal by Katie Blue, off an assist from Nicoll Hunt. Getting five shots on goal in the half (compared to the Miners’ two), the Pirates were unable to finish and left the field with a 2-1 defeat.
“It was a defensive game all the way,” said coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason. “We turned it around in the second half, but we came up a day late and a dollar short.”
In fact, goalie Alyssa Laydon logged 15 saves for the game.
Unable to find a field for play the next day, both the Ridgway Demons and the Pirates settled on a field in Delta for Saturday’s match.
“We played a real stingy defense,” Kurt-Mason said.
Playing through a scoreless first half, the Demons eventually took the lead on (according to Kurt-Mason) one of several questionable calls by officials. Awarded an indirect kick from 45 yards out, the Pirates stepped forward to create an offside trap as the Ridgway player approached the ball. Calling a penalty on Pagosa, the official stated that one Pirate player had not stepped forward, allowing most of the Demons to be in an onside position. The penalty put Laydon in a two-to-one disadvantage and the Demons capitalized.
Later, the Pirates looked poised to tie the game with Kassidy Smith awarded a penalty kick. Scoring on the kick, the ball was blown dead as the official ruled infringement on Smith — an incredulous scenario. The other official ruled it was another Pagosa player guilty of infringement. Yet, contrary to soccer rules (which states the penalty kick is to be taken again), the officials awarded the Demons an indirect kick on the 18 yard line, essentially giving the Demons the game and putting the Pirates in a tough position for playoff qualification as Ridgway was handed a 1-0 victory.
According to Kurt-Mason, the official in question was not listed or registered on the CHSSA website (discovering that when he went to the site to rate the officials for the game). Although Kurt-Mason contacted CHSSA on Sunday regarding the potential ineligibility of the official and the apparent discrepancy from the rules, the coach was doubtful that CHSSA would be able to rule in Pagosa’s favor before playoff seeding.
Heartbroken but not disheartened, the Pirates returned home on Tuesday to host the Durango Demons JV team. Playing a tough Defense, the Demons were finally able to sneak a goal by the Pirates 59 minutes into the game.
“We played a great defense, we just didn’t finish,” Kurt-Mason said.
Well-matched by the Durango defense, the Pirates took their third loss in a row, leaving the field with a 1-0 loss.
“The entire team played great defense,” Kurt-Mason said, “but our shot count was very low.
“I’m proud of our freshman surprises,” Kurt-Mason continued. “Emma Donharl had some great shots, Angie Gallegos was just tenacious out there and Haleigh Zenz was great on attacking the ball. But all our girls were excellent on shutting down any defense by Durango.”
With their last chance for a state playoff seed in the balance at Golden Peaks Stadium against the Bayfield Wolverines, the Pirates hope that they will be able to turn the tide from their three losses this past week. The game begins at 4 p.m. and admission is free.