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Middle Park girls soccer puts sportsmanship on display

Middle Park sophomore Emry Burns controls the ball as she works her way down the pitch on Wednesday vs. Bruce Randolph. Middle Park picked up the win in the atypical game where the Panthers, in a show of good sportsmanship, let the shorthanded Grizzlies borrow a few players. The Panthers play again Friday at home.

The final was 10-0, but they played Wednesday for the love of the game.

After the Panthers’ contest vs. Bruce Randolph in Granby, Middle Park girls soccer coach Jackie Finley recalled how she was contacted earlier in the day by the opposing squad: The Grizzlies only had eight players, but still wanted to come up and play — and so did Middle Park.

To make the game work, Middle Park offered Bruce Randolph a handful of its players on loan, and the game proceeded on cue after some yellow scrimmage vests solved a minor wardrobe issue.



The scoreboard was either broken or didn’t get turned on, and Finley said after the game that they stopped keeping track when the score became 10-0. More important than stats, sportsmanship was on display.

“They just wanted minutes … so I said, ’Alright, we’ll give you some players,’ we worked it out and had a good time,” Finley said. “It was a fun game.”



It also worked out well for Middle Park. The team has been blessed with a depth of roster, and a lot of girls logged considerable minutes with the extra positions to fill. Also, the Panthers didn’t seem to mind going head-to-head with a mix of the Grizzlies and their own teammates.

Another blessing for Middle Park this year has been strong senior leadership. The seniors on the team are Abby Kuhnel, Katie Mackendrick, Mia Rimmer, Ellen Osborne and Aubree Bridge. Mackendrick and Kuhnel are team captains.

“The whole senior class has really stepped up,” Finley said. “They’ve been super supportive of the team. We have five seniors and their attitude and cohesion kind of permeates the team.”

Middle Park remains undefeated following an 11-1 win vs. The Pinnacle on Monday. With Wednesday’s victory, the team is 6-0 in the Class 3A Frontier League. Four games remain on the Panthers’ COVID-shortened schedule, and the aim is to win them all.

Standing in the way are Moffat County, Vail Christian, The Academy and Bennett. Also undefeated, The Academy might be the toughest opponent of the lot. The Panthers and The Academy will play June 5, a Saturday, at MPHS.

“It’s going to be aggressive, it’s going to be competitive, it’s going to be fast,” Finley said .

Aiding the Panthers in the hopes to win out could be where the games are slated because Middle Park went on the road early in the season and will play all of its remaining regular season games at home.

On Wednesday, Middle Park drew another solid crowd for its second home game of the season, and the team hopes for another strong showing when they play Moffat County Friday at MPHS.

“I do appreciate it, and the girls appreciate it,” Finley said. “It’s so nice having people cheering for you and supporting you.”

Panthers senior Mia Rimmer throws the ball in to her teammates on Wednesday.
Senior Ellen Osborne takes a shot in the first half.
Senior team captain Abby Kuhnel beats a Grizzlies defender during a Wednesday matchup at MPHS.
Middle Park senior Aubree Bridge passes the ball on Wednesday vs. the Grizzlies.
Sophomore Josie Childers controls the ball in the second half of the game vs. Bruce Randolph.
Playing on the Grizzlies team for the half, Middle Park's Serena Stuart performs a flip throw-in on Wednesday.
Sophomore Addison DePlata takes a shot at the Grizzlies goal on Wednesday.
The Panthers' Jenna King shields the ball from defenders as she maintains possession in front of the Grizzlies' goal.
Middle Park junior Katie Riesberg dribbles the ball down the pitch before passing to a teammate.
Sophomore Josie Childers controls the ball in the second half of the game vs. Bruce Randolph.
Senior Ellen Osborne takes a shot in the first half.
Photos by Eli Pace / epace@skyhinews.com

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