The Pagosa Springs High School soccer team may have rounded out the regular season with two shutouts and an overall record of 12-3, but it will not advance to the playoffs.
The Pirates’ playoff hopes were quelled by a 2-1 Crested Butte victory over Ridgway on Oct. 20 — a victory that edged Crested Butte ahead of Pagosa in the final regional standings.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster for the last week,” Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason said of not knowing if his team would make the playoff bracket.
Indeed, it wasn’t until Monday afternoon that the Pirates knew for sure they were not advancing due to concerns over correct reporting by other teams in the region.
Questions about the postseason bracket aside, the Pirates played to advance in their final two games of the regular season, defeating Center and Piedra Vista in shutout fashion.
The Pirates defeated the Center Vikings in a shortened, 10-0 game on Oct. 20, at Golden Peaks Stadium, thanks in part by hat tricks (three goals in a game) by seniors Matt Fisher and Gabe Lister.
The Pirates’ first goal of the game came in the fifth minute, when Fisher found the back of the net from the top of the box.
A little over 10 minutes later, Lister knocked in his first goal of the game.
Following another 10-minute lull, the Pagosa squad picked up the pace, scoring five more goals before the half.
In the game’s 26th minute, Diego Gutierez finished a feed from Riley Searle.
Barely more than a minute later, Fisher finished an assist from Lister.
Looking to help his team out and take the ball out of the danger zone, the Center goalkeeper dribbled the ball for about 30 yards shortly after the goal, but his efforts were for naught.
In the game’s 29th minute, a corner kick by Sully Smith rebounded off a Center defender and found the back of the net for the Pirates’ fifth goal.
Pagosa struck again in the 35th minute with Lister’s second goal of the game.
A minute later, Searle deflected a shot off the keeper and into the goal, ending the half’s scoring at 7-0 in favor of the Pirates.
The second half of the game was merely seven minutes long, with the Pirates scoring three quick goals.
The first came in the first minute of the half, with Searle feeding the ball to Gutierez, who scored.
Almost four minutes later, Lister completed his hat trick on a feed from Gutierez.
Rounding out the scoring, Fisher completed his hat trick and the Pirates’ 10 goals.
The Pirates tallied 26 shots on the day.
The next day, the Pirates headed to Farmington for a makeup, nonconference match against Piedra Vista High School.
Kurt-Mason said Piedra Vista was gearing up for playoffs and resting players during the match, helping the Pirates take home another shutout.
In the game, the Pirates were able to score three goals, including Isaiah Thompson’s first varsity goal off a rebounded corner kick.
“He was a bright spot on the day,” Kurt-Mason said, adding,
“He’s developing into a great midfielder, forward, striker.”
The other two goals of the day came from Dean Hampton and Lister.
Hampton fired a shot from about 35 yards out that found its way through the goalie’s hands and on to the scoreboard in favor of the Pirates.
The final goal of the game came from Lister, who fed the ball into the mouth of the net from the side of the box after a battle in the box.
With the victory, the Pirates finished the season with a 12-3 record, including an 8-1 home record and a 4-2 away record. Nine of the team’s 12 wins came in the form of shutouts.
“Sometimes when you do all the right things, it doesn’t work out,” Kurt-Mason said, adding he felt the team was championship-caliber. “I have no regrets about this year, it was a phenomenal year,”
The game was the final high school game for the team’s six seniors — Fisher, Lister, Searle, Eli Velasquez, Dane Murdoch and goalie Silas Thompson.
“It’s going to be a big hole to fill, but we’re going to try to do our best,” Kurt-Mason said of losing the six. The team fielded 10 juniors this season, leaving Kurt-Mason with a potentially larger hole a year from now.
On the season, the Buccaneers scored 77 goals while allowing only 12.
While 15 different players scored in the course of the season, senior Searle led the team with 16 goals. Gutierez, a junior, followed with 14 goals.
Junior Quinn Smith tallied the third-highest number of goals with 12, and Fisher followed with 11.
Thanks to Lister’s four goals in two games, he ended the season with the team’s fifth-highest number of goals with six.
No matter the final tallies of the season, the Pirates are now left to follow conference foes Alamosa, Telluride and Crested Butte in playoff action.
Despite the fact that Region 5 no longer has northern and southern divisions, some league teams play each other twice, while others only play each other once. Because of that difference, the aggregate goals of two games against any opponent equate to one game in the league standings.
As far as the conference standings are concerned, Crested Butte (5-2-1 in total conference games) edged Pagosa (6-3 in total conference games) out of the league’s number-three hole and final conference playoff spot.
Alamosa (11-2-1 overall) will move into this weekend’s playoffs in the number-16 spot; Crested Butte (7-3-2 overall) lands as the number-20 seed; and Telluride (10-3-2 overall), is the number-27 seed.
The current iteration of the Pirate squad has found a way to keep playing, however. Kurt-Mason said the team will play in a tournament in Bernalillo, N.M. in November.