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Lady Wolverines celebrate one-year turnaround

Freshman Rey earns All-3A honorable mention
Bayfield senior Emaliah Sawyer hits the brakes in order to heel the ball backward while playing Del Norte this season. Sawyer recently scored a first-team all league honor. (Joel Priest/Special to the Herald)

Avoiding last Friday’s oppressive heat outside VFW Post 4031 in Durango, Bayfield Lady Wolverines soccer couldn’t have picked a better location to celebrate an overall solid season than the building’s main ballroom.

Proudly detailing the program’s comeback from the COVID-canceled 2020 campaign and an 0-7-1 ’21, to a 9-6 overall mark in ’22, head coach Chris Zoltowski announced that three BHS players had received first-team All-Southwest (3A) League honors: seniors Emaliah Sawyer and Jamaica Garza, plus young midfield talent Sydney Rey.

In addition to being named Bayfield’s offensive Player of the Year, freshman of the year, maestro (for all-around playmaking), and commitment player, Rey scored an all-state honorable mention in Class 3A from CHSAA and the Colorado High School Soccer Coaches Association. Rey scored 13 goals, helping the team soldier on when senior Mattie Moore (7 goals) was lost to injury.

Bayfield junior Jamaica Garza, right, clashes with Salida’s Hayden Bevington this spring. Garza was recently named to the league’s first team. Joel Priest/Special to the Herald

Sawyer (5 goals) was voted the Lady Wolverines’ senior of the year and received the team’s leadership and versatility awards. Garza (4 goals) was BHS’ defensive Player of the Year and iron boot winner.

Preslie Wagner (10 goals) received honorable mention All-SWL, plus BHS’ sophomore of the year and commitment awards. Abria Thayer was named junior of the-year, and picked up the team’s own-the-flanks (for midfield play) and honey badger (determination, toughness) awards.

Freshman Kambrie Byrd also earned honey badger and a share of most versatile, while sophomore Brylee Sampley received own-the-flanks and commitment awards. Senior goalkeeper Annie Fusco – who scored one goal as a field player – and sophomore Amelia Beck each received a commitment award, as did freshmen Tanley Howard and Anna Vasgird.

Freshman Tanna Owens was chosen as the Lady Wolverines’ most improved player.

The Southwest’s POY title went to Alamosa senior Malia Tuioti-Mariner for her efforts helping the Mean Moose finish a second-place 4-2 in league. AHS, skippered by SWL coach of the year Claire Lara, reached the 32-team Class 3A state tournament and finished 8-7 overall after a Round-of-32 loss to Parker Lutheran. BHS was third at 3-3.

As expected, Pagosa Springs’ senior Trista Tully was the consensus choice as SWL goalkeeper of the year, and earned All-3A honorable mention as her defense was often the best offense the Lady Pirates (0-6 SWL, 5-8 overall) could muster.

Additional first-team All-SWL 3A members: Montezuma-Cortez: Jordi Mahler, Allie Kibel, Anna Jensen; Alamosa: Malia Tuioti-Mariner, Emily Tibbitts (goalie), Halle Phares, Kamryn Rogers; Pagosa Springs: Elizabeth Currier, Lauren Monterroso.

Additional SWL honorable mentions: Montezuma-Cortez: Olivia Cosner, Sophia Shepard, Jayden Thomason; Alamosa: Abby Wubben; Pagosa Springs: Jeidy Moreno-Echavarria.