In the heat of battle Wednesday afternoon, Bayfield High School’s misses were as entertaining as its hits.
Particularly in the 33rd minute when, with BHS already owning a five-goal lead before an eventual 10-0 win in Ignacio, Wolverine sophomore Brooke Merchant tried beating IHS goalie Jaylene Riepel short-side and rang her close-range shot off the post.
Seconds later, after the rebound was controlled and reversed to the other side, sophomore Halle Loveday clanged the team’s next attempt off the other post before the Bobcats, not even wanting to entertain the thought of seeing if the visitors would try tagging the crossbar for showmanship’s sake, managed to clear the ball.
Though humorous to the away side’s supporters, and probably most of the players themselves, BHS girls soccer head coach Jen Moore would rather have seen either shot sneak in, knowing such chances will be key to success this Friday and Saturday when Bayfield heads north into the mountains to face Ridgway and Telluride, respectively.
“We need to work on following the ball a little bit,” she said, “knowing that keepers are going to bobble things and balls are going to hit the posts. We’re still hitting some things wide, still missing things. We’re not quite sure when to take the shot and when to pass it, so we definitely need to get that a little more organized and figure that out.
“Ridgway and Telluride, they’re always physical, always tough, but we definitely want to keep our streak going and end up in the playoffs. We have the girls that can do it; every time we tell ’em to do something in practice, they’re putting it into the games and that’s super rewarding.”
[image;2]Bayfield’s winning streak officially reached five wins when, fittingly, Merchant slid a 72nd-minute crossing pass to Loveday, who then took a couple touches in stride and zipped the match-ending 10th goal.
Sophomore Madi McInroy opened the scoring with a seventh-minute conversion after freshman Maddy Oltmanns forced Riepel to come off her line and partially deflect her initial shot. Oltmanns then ran onto a long outlet punt by goalie Jaden Cooper and dribbled the ball all the way to score in the 12th. She then struck again in the 16th when Riepel initially gloved a Peri Milner rocket heading up and to her left, but Riepel lost her grip on the way down with Oltmanns on site to capitalize.
And in the 20th, Oltmanns’ high-rising header of a Loveday corner kick provided an emphatic, highlight-reel means of completing her hat trick while putting the Wolverines (6-4 overall, 5-2 3A/2A Southwestern, 3-1 3A SWL) up 4-0.
“Mo’s got four header goals now, all from Halle corner kicks,” said Moore, discussing that finish as well as Oltmanns’ encore ’banger in the 50th for a 6-nil lead, “so that’s pretty exciting. We’ve never been dangerous on set pieces before, so it’s super exciting to see those girls doing that and not afraid to.”
Oltmanns said the team’s passing has been better during the winning streak and the team is coming together at the right time.
McInroy got a second goal against the ’Cats in the 56th minute via a Kaelyn Martinez cross, and Martinez increased BHS’ lead to 8-0 in the 59th. The junior then provided freshman Mattie Moore, who had scored in the 28th off a Gabby Cuellar feed, with a helper in the 61st to put Bayfield, which gained 17 total corners and unofficially put 30 shots on frame, on the verge of a mercy-rule shutout.
“We always do the same thing in games,” said Loveday, “and this one we saw some different options that we can use.”
Moore said the team’s previous practice working on passing and through balls while getting the defense involved in the attack paid off in Wednesday’s rout.
“I don’t think we quite utilized ([attacking defenders) as much as I wanted to, but we did get a lot of good passing on the field,” she said. “That was great to see because there’s been just a lot of booting it, panicking kinds of things. And, today, they communicated a lot more ... and did a much better job of playing together as a team.”
Sophomore Cayanne Carlson is one of Moore’s attack-capable defenders, and she also has watched the team come together as a unit.
“We’re going to keep working hard in practice as a team,” Carlson said. “Pass to the outsides, use every position on the field and take every chance we have.”