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Pagosa stops BHS girls
Written by: Joel Priest
Pagosa Springs’ game plan became very obvious early Tuesday afternoon:
They’d either live by their Laurel, or die by their Laurel.
For again in the second of two matches against Bayfield, Laurel Reinhardt was literally the only option Lindsey Kurt-Mason’s team could look to for a lift. Or even a shot on goal.
Fellow forwards Lexi Johnson, Ashley Portnell and Natalie Erickson were non-factors against a resolute 4-4-2 that conversely peppered shot after shot on goalie Nichole Kazarinoff.
But again, when Reinhardt did shoot, she made it sting—burying a right-footed bender into the ‘upper 90’ over BHS sophomore Amber Howlett’s left shoulder in the 24th minute, adding her second off a free kick in the 41st over the backpedaling keeper from about 20 yards away, and completing her hat trick by dribbling alone from midfield all the way into Bayfield’s penalty area through three defenders to score in the 47th.
And just like that, PSHS escaped Wolverine Country Stadium with a 3-1 comeback win.
Did I just mention PSHS and comeback in the same sentence? I did.
Because the Lady Wolverines were more than ready to surprise on Senior Day.
Never calling a ‘mayday’ on May Day, Bayfield were as prepared physically as their March 16 1-0 OT loss (Reinhardt scored the winner then as well) and even tougher mentally.
BHS senior Danielle Bemelen played her final match with a completely mangled left cleat, requiring a major tape job to enclose the toe. Sophomore Raven Finegan gutted out some quality minutes off the bench playing on a stress-fractured ankle that couldn’t have been even 75 percent healthy. And Howlett? After taking the varsity loss, she sent Bemelen and senior Katye Mead off into the sunset properly by knocking home the match-winner with under a minute remaining in the JV contest afterwards (BHS won 2-1, as they also did on March 16).
“It was definitely our game and we should have won,” said Mead. “We all played our hearts out, and I know next year we’re going to move on and dominate.”
“It was a great game and I’m so proud of our players,” said Howlett. “Everybody really stepped it up again.”
Playing their third Southwestern League match in five days to close the regular season, Bayfield stormed out of the gates in the first half and nearly scored just nine minutes in, when a Bemelen corner kick skirted the goal line but didn’t hook into Kazarinoff’s net. The play stemmed from a near-miss seconds earlier when sophomore Megan Lane had too great a distance to cover to cash in a Pagosa turnover in front of the gaping goal mouth.
No matter. For Bayfield’s present hooked up with its future for the match’s first goal in the 12th, when Bemelen served a stellar free kick from just inside midfield, over two Buccanette defenders and onto the right foot of streaking freshman forward Kelsie Kins, who cashed her second of the season and gave BHS a 1-0 lead that Pagosa never expected.
Sensing the proverbial blood in the water, BHS sophomore midfielder Mady Freeman nearly made it 2-nil in the 14th, taking a slick touch pass from junior Megan Cole and missing a left-footed attempt just wide of Kazarinoff’s right.
Cole had booked the winner (her second goal this season) in last Friday’s away match against Ridgway, and the BHS defending did the rest in a 1-0 victory to sweep the season series against the Lady Demons, and had it not been for a Nikki Gallen trifecta the following morning, Bayfield would have hung a first league loss over the Telluride Lady Miners’ heads.
THS’ Madison Ward and Katherine Hess doubled their 2-0 halftime lead early in the second stanza, but called down Bayfield’s thunder in the process.
Bemelen blasted BHS onto the scoreboard, then junior Morgan Tilton converted a crossing pass, and Bemelen finished the John Witherspoon-ish bang-bang-bang! sequence with a successful penalty kick. Suddenly it was 4-3 at Down Valley Park in Placerville, before Gallen’s third secured the 5-3 victory.
But despite the loss, Bayfield found the ultimate confidence to go into battle against Pagosa Springs, not scared by Pagosa’s 6-0 win over Center on Monday.
For they had fared better head-up against the 2007 SWL champs in two losses than Pagosa had—losing 10-3 in two matches while Pagosa lost by a combined 10-2.
“We’ve played phenomenally against every team in our league,” Bemelen said, “but we’re just unlucky against this team [Pagosa Springs].”
Bayfield finished 6-8 overall
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