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MPHS soccer: Wrapping up the season

Will Bublitz
wbublitz@grandcountynews.com
Granby, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Battling close to the end of their regular season, Middle Park High’s boys soccer players have split the results of their past four games.

The Panthers started the four-game series with a 7-2 loss to Peak to Peak at its field in Lafayette on Thursday, Oct. 2.

“It was another of those games where we played a really good first half, but couldn’t maintain it in the second half,” said Coach Shawn McElroy.



The Panthers’ Robert Johnson put the game’s first goal on the scoreboard in the opening minutes of play with an assist from Elliott Levett. Hard of the heels of that first goal, Peak to Peak came back immediately with a couple of their own goals to take the lead 2-1.

It looked as if they were going to hold it going into halftime, but with less then a minute left, Middle Park’s Bartosz Koczera won the turnover in the box, beat the goalie and kicked the ball into the net to tie the score 2-2.



“Unfortunately for us in the second half, Peak to Peak came out with a lot of energy and kept us constantly pressed,” McElroy said. “They scored five more goals while we

were unable to come back.”

McElroy wanted to praise the one-on-one coverage done by Connor Barnes who completely shut down one of Peak to Peak’s top players.

Beating Pinnacle 5-3

Rebounding from the loss, the Panthers went on to whip Pinnacle in a home game by a score of 5-3 on Saturday, Oct. 4.

Middle Park went immediately on the attack against Pinnacle and scored the first goal in only 17 seconds. Elliott Levett took a quick pass across the field and kicked the ball into the net for the first goal.

“We came out really strong in that one,” McElroy. “Elliott scored one of our quickest goals of the year.”

Following that stunning score, the two teams settled into a back-and-forth struggle with neither getting an advantage. The break came after 15 minutes when the Panthers’ Lucas Mendez took a pass from Levett, took aim and blasted the ball into the net to put Middle Park up 2-0.

Pinnacle finally got on the scoreboard a couple of minutes before halftime, but it was Middle Park who came out on the attack when play resumed in the second half. Within five minutes, Panther forward Oscar Hernandez kicked the ball in for the team’s third goal off an assist from Levett.

“After that, we got to feeling comfortable and playing too casual,” McElroy said. “Pinnacle rallied and came back to tie up the score 3-3.”

With only 15 minutes remaining, Middle Park then kicked their game into overdrive. Going on the attack, the Panthers pushed the ball into Pinnacle territory with Erik Hetzler taking the ball and slamming it unassisted into the net. Five minutes later, Bartosz Koczera repeated the same attack, putting Middle Park up by two goals to secure the win.

“Elliott had another good day, working the left side of the field and helping make our goals happen,” McElroy said. “I also have to praise our defensive midfielder Joey Coucke who gets the ball and starts our counterattacks.”

Saturday’s game was also a benefit for former Panther soccer player Zack Peterson who was graduated last spring but then was seriously injured in a traffic accident in July. Over $800 was raised to help pay for his medical expenses. Peterson was also on hand to cheer on his former teammates.

Trouncing Jefferson 9-2

Traveling to Jefferson High School on Monday, Oct. 6, the Panthers completely controlled the game and won it easily 9-2.

“We came out on fire and pretty much dominated it from start to finish,” McElroy said. “Everybody played really well in this conference game.”

Once again, the Panthers scored in the opening seconds of play. With only 15 seconds on the clock, Oscar Hernandez “headed” the ball into the net off an assist from Erik Hetzler. Hernandez followed up that goal with a second just five minutes later.

“Oscar’s header into the net was beautiful,” McElroy said. “His second goal was off a volley shot and he finished it off very cleanly with a skillful shot into the net.”

Before the first half ended, Middle Park put its third goal on the scoreboard. Max Meredith scored on a breakaway, taking the ball and beating the goalkeeper to slam the ball into the net.

The second half turned into a scoring spree by the Panthers. Hetzler scored first, followed by a goal from Johnson. Levett kept the momentum going by scoring on a penalty kick and then on an unassisted goal. Johnson capped the spree with a second goal on a breakaway.

“We were up 8-0 and we then brought in our subs,” McElroy said. That’s when Jefferson scored twice. Buth then we finished off the game with a ninth goal by Brandon Cronin who scored unassisted.”

Close loss to Machebeuf

After earning those two wins, Middle Park then hosted Bishop Machebeuf on Tuesday, Oct. 7. In a hard-fought game, the Panthers fell 2-1 to the Buffalos.

“It was one of the better games that we’ve played this season,” McElroy said. “We played it well and cleanly.”

The Panthers made another quick goal as the game began. After only three minutes of play, Joey Coucke scored off an assist from Lucas Mendez.

Following that first goal, the game became a seesaw battle between both teams that lasted well into the second half. Finally with 20 minutes left on the game clock, the Buffalos tied up the score 1-1. Then with eight minutes left, a free-for-all took place in the box in front of the Panthers net with Machebeuf making the kick that scored the winning goal.

“We played well against a good team,” McElroy said. “We had a number of standouts in that game including our defenders Dylan Foley, Walter Shoup and Tim Leman as well as midfielder Joey Coucke who all did a good job for us. We just came up a little short in this game.”


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