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By Randi Pierce
In stark contrast to last week’s 6-0 loss to the Salida Spartans, the Pagosa Springs High School boys’ soccer team defeated the Center Vikings in a 10-0 match Friday to even their season record at 1-1.
“They played a lot better,” said Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason.
The Pirates scored early and often in the affair, with senior Diego Gutierrez hitting the net within the first minute off an assist by fellow senior Garek Erskine.
In the ninth minute, Gutierrez fed an assist to junior Colton Polczynski, who placed it in the net.
Just over a minute later, freshman James Berndt scored the first goal of his high school career off an assist by senior Sully Smith on a shot that found its way past the Viking goalkeeper from about 30 yards out.
“He’s one of those kids to watch,” Kurt-Mason said, noting that Berndt recently completed a tryout for an Olympic training program.
Berndt struck again just over two minutes later, this time with a header, scoring the team’s fourth goal off a cross from Erskine.
Two minutes later, a corner kick failed to result in a goal, but the Pirates never lost control and Smith was able to feed the ball to fellow senior Garret Lyle, who scored the team’s fifth goal.
Keeping with their pattern, the Pirates scored again two minutes later on Gutierrez’s second goal of the day.
The squad briefly broke their pattern, not scoring again until the 24th minute when freshman Briar Erskine fed a ball to fellow freshman Sam Chronowski, who increased Pagosa’s lead to 7-0 with his first high school goal.
Regaining their previous tempo, the next goal came two minutes later on a feed from senior Dean Hampton to Polczynski.
In the 31st minute, Gutierrez fed the ball to freshman Blake Irons, who then recorded the first goal of his high school career.
Taking a 9-0 lead into the second half, it took only two more minutes for the Pirates to end the game, with the 10th and final goal coming from the foot of Gutierrez, who recorded a hat trick on the day (three goals). Garek Erskine assisted on the play.
“They kept their tempo up,” Kurt-Mason said, adding it was a team goal to keep the tempo and energy of the game up.
Kurt-Mason also commented on the work between older and younger members of the team, including seniors passing the ball off to a freshman for a goal.
Gutierrez, in fact, won the team’s coveted lunch box — the squad’s version of a weekly MVP award — and was called “phenomenal” for his work in the game, both offensively and defensively.
“They worked hard, they really did. We’ve been putting in the works,” Kurt-Mason said.
But the Pirates can’t look to coast through the next week, with a conference match against Crested Butte Friday and a match against 4A Montezuma-Cortez Saturday.
“Crested Butte’s going to be tough,” Kurt-Mason said. The team tied Telluride (a traditionally tough opponent) in their previous game. “I’m sure it’s going to be a match, a real battle.”
That game takes place at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Golden Peaks Stadium.
The next day, the team will head to Cortez for a match-up against the 4A school, with that game scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.