With highlight-reel saves her habit of choice, Diana Scott had to hold her nerve and stand her ground one last time Tuesday afternoon against a Bayfield bunch able to overcome four total yellow cards, leading to the loss of a primary player before halftime, and still put her under heavy fire.
"It was incredibly difficult playing a man down, especially since Sophie is such a powerful force," junior Peri Milner said, referring to senior midfielder Sophie Turner's disqualifying second caution, resulting from a sandwich-style collision (senior Savannah Kaufmann pursued the ball from the other side) with a Pagosa Springs player near the visitors' bench. "So it was a hard hit, taking her out."
"We just really had to work on listening to what our coach had been telling us during practices," she continued. "And, really, just getting passes up so we help our offense get the goal. Or get TO the goalie, at least!"
Within the opening five minutes in their long-awaited 2018 home opener, the Wolverines made that look easy, with Turner and senior Misty Helton deftly threading passes through the Pirates, creating opportunities for Kaufmann and freshman Halle Loveday.
Bayfield had an unlucky break in the 58th minute. Keeper Lana McKee leaped to snare a high-arcing ball played in by PSHS' Hailey Griego, lost control of the ball in traffic on her way down, and PSHS' Sarah Ross managed to redirect the ball into a vacated net. After that, Bayfield's forward rushes were usually met by two or three Springs defenders.
"It was kind of a confidence boost, to know I could get up there," Loveday said. "But at the same time, it also got me down; I had so many chances that I kind of didn't think - took a touch, and it got away from my feet."
But with stoppage time running out and Bayfield putting all remaining energy into an attack, those feet were what Scott didn't want to see nearly unmarked and heading straight for her after Kaufmann cleverly flicked a header backwards and towards the middle of Pagosa Springs' 18.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Scott was up to the task again and made the pressure save, preserving a 1-0 win and evening the teams' season series at 1-1 (BHS still leads 5-4 in head-to-head scoring).
Still stoked by a 4-3 road win over non-league 3A Buena Vista three days earlier, Bayfield (3-4, 2-3 3A/2A Intermountain) were the unquestioned aggressors 30 of the first 40 minutes, taking an unofficial nine shots while PSHS (3-5, 3-2) managed two, and placing seven tries on frame to the guests' zero.
There was just one obstacle in the way: Scott.
After Turner's swift sending-off, and after Helton was shown yellow in the 43rd for using an elbow to help win possession near BHS' bench, and after BHS skipper Jen Moore was booked in the 47th for apparently questioning the criteria for a foul, PSHS' goalie energized her team to its highest level yet with a sliding, 1-v-1 robbery of a Kaufmann breakaway in the 57th-literally seconds before the visitors' breakthrough.
"On Saturday we just went out.gave it everything we had, you know?" Milner said. "And I think that once we saw the impact that made, we were able to translate that from practice to our next game - this game - even though it didn't result in a win, like we wanted," Milner said. "We definitely worked hard."
"We just have to keep it up; we start well, but we kind of fizzle," added Loveday. "And we need to be aggressive. I know we were aggressive in this game, but we need to learn to be a 'smart' kind of aggressive."
Up next, the Wolverines will host Alamosa (6-1, 4-0) at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 13.