Her team caught in an uncharacteristic three-match slide, Bayfield High School girls soccer coach Jen Moore more or less wrapped up practice Wednesday putting her personnel before a firing squad.
It a humorous moment designed to remind her Wolverines that the only thing worthy of fearing, more so than Thursday’s opponent Pagosa Springs and Saturday’s foe Crested Butte, is fear itself. Bayfield’s longtime skipper ordered her players to about-face, stand shoulder to shoulder on the goal line and within the goal frame, unable to see into whose back their commanding officer would blast a shot from roughly 18 yards away.
Nervous laughter built along with anticipation of hearing boot meet ball. But, instead of one individual taking one for the team, Moore somehow skimmed her shot silently along the grass and past the outside foot of a player on the end, completely painless and even more hilarious to all parties present.
“It was just trying to keep them excited and ready to play because right now it’s kind of the biggest thing to get us mentally prepared,” explained Moore. “These last nine games have just flown by. Three weeks ago, we said, ‘Hey, we really need to buckle down and get some things taken care of.’ And I think we’ve done that, but always there’s room for improvement, so we’re working hard every day.”
But with just two regular-season contests remaining, the bottom line for BHS is simple.
“We need a win,” said Moore. “We’ve got to win. A loss (Thursday) ends our season, I think, and a win, hopefully, we can get a good RPI spot.”
A 2-1 loss Tuesday at Montezuma-Cortez, coming on the heels of a 3-1 setback at 2A Ridgway and a 5-1 defeat the next morning at 2A Telluride left Bayfield 3-2 against the 3A/2A Southwestern League’s 3A side and 6-7 overall prior to the senior night showdown with Pagosa (4-0-1 3A SWL, 6-5-2 overall).
Certainly not the position the Wolverines would normally want to be in to face a Lindsey Kurt-Mason team, but one which doesn’t look as shaky considering the Pirates also lost at both Ridgway and Telluride last weekend by similar scores and failed to score a goal, something Bayfield did manage with freshman Mattie Moore scoring against both.
Sophomore Brooke Merchant then struck against Cortez, giving Bayfield at least one goal in eight consecutive matches – always a plus when preparing for either Pagosa Springs or Crested Butte.
“I think it will be a good game,” Moore said of hosting the Titans, currently 8-1-1 versus the SWL’s 2A sides and with a 10th overall triumph already in the books after a 4-1 win Tuesday over Ridgway. “Especially with us being at home and them traveling; they play at Pagosa the night before. But to be 100% honest, I’m just focused on (Pagosa). I know Crested Butte is going to be tough, but we’ll worry about that after.
“We have some good things happening. We didn’t have Halle (Loveday) the last time we played them, we didn’t have Tayler Ludwig the last time. ... There’s no doubt in my mind we can beat them. I think we could have beaten them the first time, and, hopefully at home, senior night, we can get some fans and get the girls excited.”
The Pagosa Springs match, a 7 p.m. start beneath Wolverine Country Stadium’s lights, was to be the last time facing the rival Pirates for seniors Peri Milner, Caibri Schaefer and Sarah Ruybal, all of whom Moore thanked in advance.
“The best thing about those three is they get along great and they’re amazing leaders. They just all love the game and they’re excited to be here. All the girls look up to them,” she said. “You don’t have to be the best player to be a good leader, and that’s something those girls have.
“They get along well with the younger girls and we’re really looking to them for some guidance and experience.”