The beautiful game turns gritty in the dog days of summer. Eighty minutes of running in hot conditions can wear down even the fittest teams.
Montezuma-Cortez High School’s soccer team ran into those challenges, coupled with an injury bug that left the Panthers with barely enough players to take the field, as part of a tough opening two weeks of its season.
M-CHS (0-4, 0-1 3A SWL) opened its home slate with a pair of losses, 9-2 against Bloomfield and 4-0 in their league opener against Pagosa Springs. Under the guidance of head coach Kevin McGarigal, the Panthers have continued to develop the tactical savvy that allows them to break down defenses. However, in their opening four matches, the Panthers have had limited opportunities to press forward to allow senior captain Ben Byerly and the strikers clear chances on goal.
The Panthers tested themselves in the first weekend of the season against a pair of larger schools, falling to Grand Junction Central, 7-1, and Palisade, 9-0. In both outings, the Panthers hung tough, with freshman Carter Tanner collecting a rebound and scoring against Central, making it a 2-1 game in the first half. However, a lack of substitutes and attrition wore down the Panthers in their losses.
M-CHS has proven themselves to historically be a strong team in the second half of the campaign, and the Panthers have a string of home matches to turn their fortunes. The Panthers host Ridgway on Saturday, Sep. 4th for a 12 p.m. kickoff before returning to league play the following Friday, Sept. 10th, when Bayfield comes to town for a 5:15 start time.