In the movie “Legionnaire,” actor Jean-Claude Van Damme’s enemies spare his life in the film’s closing moments out of respect for his last-man-alive drive to go down fighting.
After almost every match, home or away, this season, Ignacio High School girls soccer head coach Alisha Gullion has heard opposing coaches and match officials alike salute her squad’s similar sportsmanship. That was again the case Wednesday afternoon at IHS Field, when the Bobcats were willing to play two players short at times.
Not the situation in which any 3A/2A Southwestern League side wants to be when facing Bayfield, but one the ladies rocking red and black knew they could only fight through in preparation of hosting Center this Friday with a second win possible in one year for the first time since 2010, when they defeated Center 4-0 and 2-0.
“You know, I’m so proud of the girls,” said Alisha Gullion, who had to limit minutes to recovering juniors Santana Edd and Lonicia O’John in Wednesday’s match against Bayfield. “I’m always proud of them. No matter what the odds are, they always come out here and play their hearts out, do everything that they possibly can.”
And in trying to conserve health and energy for the 4 p.m. showdown with the Vikings, about all the ’Cats could possibly do was protect goalie Jaylene Riepel.
With regular netminder Rylee Pearson benched by a booted right ankle sustained during last weekend’s doubleheaders in both Ridgway and Telluride – injuries in the first three of those four matches pressed Gullion into forfeiting the second test with Telluride – Riepel managed to unofficially stop 18 of Bayfield’s 30 shots on goal in a 10-0 loss.
“They held Bayfield off for as long as they could, and that’s all I could ask,” said Gullion, noting a 22-minute stretch midway through in which the guests persisted and the Bobcats (1-11 overall, 1-11 3A/2A SWL, 1-7 2A SWL) resisted.
Playing on taped and padded knees, Riepel’s effort boosted the boss’ confidence to face CHS (0-9, 0-9, 0-6).
“It’s nice to have somebody else that you have faith in that you can put in the goal box,” Gullion said. “She’s learning and she’s growing, but definitely that raw ability is there. I am just so happy that we have her with Rylee out.”
Both Amanda, thought to have seriously injured her face last Friday at Ridgway but showing no damage, and Brianna Henderson were healthy against Bayfield, and along with junior Caitlyn Chapman and versatile attacker/defender Alexis Pontine, were occasionally able to create an optimistic rush into Bayfield’s defensive third.
“I know they’re coming out fired up, and we’re going to come out fired up,” Gullion stated.
Friday will be senior day for the Bobcats, and Gullion said the team will play hard for Briana Duran, who was held out because of a lingering hip and leg injury.
“I think that will be our, kind of, end-of-season culminating of everything we’ve been working toward,” Gullion said. “They’re going to get to show up, face off against a team that’s on the same level as them in front of their fans and parents and everything.”
After the Vikings, Ignacio is slated to host Alamosa at 11 a.m. Saturday, giving the Bobcats three matches within four calendar days this week and now seven within the past eight.
“After two doubleheaders, back-to-back, last week I’m saying, we’re used to it at this point,” Gullion grinned.