The home-field homecoming proved to be sweet, with Telluride taking a 2-1 win thanks to some late-game heroics at the Telluride High School field.
Being the first time in recent memory that the much-smaller Telluride team has beaten their larger non-league Durango rivals, THS head coach Aja Forestier said the girls had much to celebrate following their Tuesday evening victory.
“It was a super win for us. I’m really proud of our team; every time they get on the field they play at a higher level,” Forestier said.
The score was locked at a resolute 0-0 at the half on Tuesday, despite aggressive playing throughout the first half from Telluride’s offense. Although the Lady Miners managed to out-fire their rivals and maintained possession in front of the Durango net for much of the half, the Demons upheld strong fortresses on defense thanks to exacting goalkeeping.
Durango came out with a robust offensive attack to start the second, dominating the first ten minutes of play. Sweeper Mackenzie Bronson anchored the Miner defense with smart-playing tactics, however, managing to keep Durango shooters on the farther reaches of the field. With help from stopper Shannon Lynch and Telluride’s mid-fielders, the Miners managed to shut down the Demons’ early-half assault.
Telluride got back into their groove after the Demon-lead offensive flurry, spearheading a solid attack of their own. Twenty minutes into the half freshman starter Sarah Wontrobski found the back of the net off an assist from Jessi Solomon, offering the home team a bit of breathing room with a 1-0 score.
Their relief was short-lived, however. A particularly potent scuffle in front of the Telluride net, in which a Demon forward came down hard on star Telluride goalie Alison Horn, resulted in Horn being thrown out of the game with a red card after she threw an elbow attempting to regain her footing. Durango was awarded a penalty kick, and back-up goalie Lynch – with no time to warm-up – got a hand on the shot but ultimately couldn’t divert its path into the back of the Telluride net.
The girls were, in the words of their coach, “fired up” by the red card call on their goalie and the subsequent 1-1 score leading into the final minutes of the game. The team’s fury ultimately worked in their favor, however, with the Lady Miners returning to the game with renewed focus. Toni Hill put a foot on the ball from outside the penalty box, which the Demon goalie couldn’t contain. Telluride’s 2-1 lead held up until the final whistle.
“It really takes a community effort to beat Durango. It takes all of our players to really step up to plate” to win against a 5A powerhouse like Durango, Forestier said. “Thanks to Durango for coming out to play us,” she added.
This week’s victory over Durango will help forge a winning path into the next two weeks, Forestier hopes, with a flurry of home games packing the end-of-regular-season schedule. Telluride will play Pagosa Springs this Friday and then on Saturday will meet Bayfield. Following that matchup, they’ll host Ignacio on Tuesday and will then play their regular season finale game against Ridgway next Friday.
The upcoming game schedule will test the Miners’ mettle, no doubt: Not only do the next two weeks include games against their toughest league contenders Bayfield and Ridgway, players are also contending with the SATs on Saturday and finals next week. Starting goalie Horn will also have to sit out the next game.
“The next two weeks are going to be really strenuous for the girls, not just on the soccer field,” Forestier said.
The Miners remain undefeated in their league, and plan to stay that way despite the challenges ahead. “As I said at the beginning of the season, our goal is to be undefeated in our league – and we’re still going full throttle ahead for that,” Forestier said.