The answer was a resounding “NO.”
The THS girls soccer team had been dealt a debilitating blow before the State Playoff match had even begun – before, in fact, the team had even left Telluride. Coach Forestier found out last Sunday that her team’s playoff game was scheduled seven hours away, in Manitou Springs (near Colorado Springs) and, even worse, it was scheduled on Wednesday – the same day that almost every single Telluride varsity soccer player would be taking Advanced Placement exams.
The team could have forfeited. Its junior varsity players had rarely, if ever, stepped onto the field without their key varsity player teammates, who showed their smarts in choosing to miss out on the state tournament in the name of pursuing their higher education goals. The remaining players knew they would be going up against a well-tested Front Range team, a team with the advantage of being able to practice (on non-snow covered turf) year-round. And their adversaries would, without a doubt, be fielding their state tournament berth-winning varsity roster.
Despite the dissection of their varsity team, the across-the-state travel requirement and the long shot odds at winning, THS’ remaining soccer players (nine freshman, five sophomores, and one senior) made the trip to Manitou Springs anyway. And they lost, 6-0.
But according to Forestier, the team gained something nearly as valuable as a state tournament win.
“They went in there and did the best they could, and now they can all say that they have experience playing at the state tournament level,” said Forestier.
Forestier admits that while she and her team were “realistic about our situation” going into last Wednesday’s playoff game, she was nevertheless impressed at the effort her junior varsity players demonstrated in the face of stiff competition.
“We scrounged a team together Monday, had to leave Tuesday, and then on Wednesday these girls – who had just gotten back from spring break a week prior – had to jump into a playoff game. It was a lot to ask of them,” Forestier admitted, “but they should be proud. They played as hard as they could.”
THS did indeed put up a tough front in spite of the lopsided rosters, and 6-0 score nonwithstanding, held strong defensively throughout much of the match. The Miners held their contenders to just two goals throughout most of the first half, letting in a third goal just before halftime to put the score at 3-0.
Telluride’s 15-player roster, compared to Manitou’s 21-player roster, began feeling the heat in the second half; not just from the sun, but also from relentless pressure from the home team. Sophomore goalie Alison Horn “kept Telluride in the game” thanks to some “mega saves,” Forestier said, adding; “It could have been a scoring frenzy, and it wasn’t.”
The fact that Telluride qualified for the State Tournament is impressive; but perhaps what’s more impressive, Forestier says, is that this year’s team was not only talented on the soccer pitch, they were also a highly intelligent crew. “The fact that all the team’s juniors and seniors are involved in AP education shows what an intelligent group of student athletes Telluride has.”
(Jacqui Distefano was the sole senior representing her class at the game: She also had an AP test to take, but hers had been on Tuesday.)
On the bus ride home last Wednesday, Forestier told her young players that despite the tough match and lopsided score, they should be proud of their accomplishment.
“You are our future,” she said.
And for THS girls soccer, the future looks bright.