Head coach Chris Zoltowski wasted little time in telling his Wolverines after Tuesday's home match that the Pagosa Springs they'd just faced probably won't be the same Pagosa Springs set to welcome them into Golden Peaks Stadium on Oct. 2.
But he also made sure to preface that reminder with an emphatic declaration: We can win this league.
Still to face Montezuma-Cortez and Alamosa on the Southwestern (a.k.a. Intermountain) League's 3A-level side, Bayfield took the first step towards that supreme objective with a thorough 7-1 destruction of the visiting Pirates inside Wolverine Country Stadium.
"It's not good to go lose 9-0, then go onto our own field 0-and-4," said junior Jason Schneider, referring to BHS' lopsided Sept. 8 loss at 2A Crested Butte. "We just used that game to fuel us for this game. Knew we had to get this win if we at least want a chance at Playoffs this year, and it just took teamwork."
"We had the chance to play a team in our league.see what the actual game is like, versus playing Crested Butte," said senior goalie Bailee Blakeslee, who split halves with freshman understudy Caleb Lake up at Rainbow Park but went the distance versus PSHS. "Playing Pagosa gives us the chance to see what the game's really about."
And though Bayfield caught their longtime regional rival program in an unusual state of flux, the Wolverines gave no quarter. Striking quickly, Italian exchange student Mattia DiBello alertly intercepted a short goal kick by Pirate sophomore Wyatt Ziegler, then drilled in the ice-breaker from about 20 yards out just five minutes in.
"It's good to score early, so the team is happy and everyone is more motivated," he said. "And after last Saturday, this is a good feeling."
DiBello then one-touched a perfect Callum Marshall pass on the fly past an oncoming Ziegler in the 22nd, then blasted in a 30-yarder in the 34th after receiving a feed from Schneider, initially set up by freshman Tristan French's threatening run deep inside the guests' penalty area.
French's low-flying laser of a stoppage-time shot had nearly spoiled Crested Butte's shutout, and it was clear from the outset Tuesday that he, DiBello, Schneider, Blakeslee, 16th-birthday-boy Dylan Morrow and anyone else wearing purple were looking to get that sort of electricity coursing at home as fast as possible.
Bayfield (1-4 overall, 1-3 3A/2A SWL, 1-0 3A SWL) made their initial second-half rush immediately after Blakeslee's goal kick from Pagosa restarted play, and Schneider converted a breakaway for a 4-0 lead. He'd run onto a DiBello pass into space and mark again in the 53rd, and after Pirate senior Paul Farrah countered with a swift strike in the 54th, Schneider capitalized on another breakaway in the 58th with DiBello providing the assist.
"During practice that's what we do," Schneider said. "We know where we're going to be at on the field, we know our strengths and know our weaknesses-with all that, he's been able to help out. I'm happy to have him on our team."
DiBello finished the scoring in the 78th minute, settling a Schneider throw-in and promptly zipping in his fourth score to give the Wolverines extra momentum into their test versus Alamosa on Saturday. And having played Pagosa without Dylan Doskocil, lost to an ankle injury suffered at Crested Butte, Bayfield happily took all they could get in preparation for the Mean Moose.
"With Dylan out it hurt the team a little bit, because he's our captain and senior leader," Blakeslee said. "But I'm so glad teammates like Jason and Vega (Jareth, freshman) stepped up. And Mattia; they just did great, encouraged the team, and.I feel like anybody on the team can do that as well-step up to a challenge."
"Losing a player sucks," Schneider agreed, "but at the same time we have to move on, focus on our game and try to get a win. And.this win's also going to make Dylan happy too; now he knows that, he doesn't have to try to carry the team. So when he comes out here he has more confidence in all of us."
"It's true that me and Jason scored all the goals, but that doesn't mean the team didn't do something," DiBello added. "Everyone runs for each other, and if we wouldn't be those 11-or 18 (counting reserves)-on the field we wouldn't have scored one."
"First thing: I'm happy that the team played well," he declared. "We're all happy to win the first.league game, so it couldn't be better."
Despite unofficially outshooting BHS 15-13, and matching BHS' nine shots-on-goal, PSHS fell to 0-5, 0-4, 0-3 in the respective standings.
SUPER SAVE: Not to be forgotten amidst all BHS' offensive highlights was one crowd-rocking defensive denial. Farrah beat Blakeslee low to the back post in the 70th minute, but the ball hit the post and incredibly paralleled the goal line all the way back into the field.
With hardly any time to compose himself, Blakeslee saw a follow-up rocket from junior Zach Haines coming his way and zeroed in on the upper corner to which he'd just turned his back. Leaping and stretching with all he had, Blakeslee managed to get both hands on the ball and deflect it away, and the fans let him know how excellent a play it was.
"I was like, 'This is where all the training pays off, the extra hours. This is where our team really pushes me to make the save,'" he said, having totaled eight stops. "Gratitude to my (goalkeeping) coach, Coach (Zac) Keeler, and Coach 'Ski for just getting me the experience I need to make those saves in a game."
"I was more confident in myself, and that's what it's really all about."