Granby " MIddle Park girls get soccer season rolling with three impressive games
Sky-Hi Daily News
In its best-ever start to a season, Middle Park High’s girls soccer team won two of its three games during the Mesa Ridge Tournament in Colorado Springs last weekend.
In their season-opening game Friday, March 7, the Lady Panthers lost 2-1 to Fountain-Fort Carson, but only during the penalty-kick shootout in overtime.
Bouncing back on Saturday, the girls won solid back-to-back victories. The Lady Panthers first crushed Harrison 10-0, and then defeated Mitchell 2-1.
Middle Park ended up fifth in the eight-team competition Saturday.
“This was the best job we’ve ever done in the four years that we’ve been going to the Mesa Ridge Tournament,” said coach Molly Sargent. “In the past, these first games of the season were our first introduction to actually playing on a field. Now that we have our own indoor practice facility in Granby, we can really start to play from the first game.”
The Lady Panthers more than just got their feet wet in Friday’s season opener. They actually went on the attack and outshot Fountain-Fort Carson 19-6 during regulation play. Ryndi Zastrow scored Middle Park’s single goal to leave the score tied 1-1 after 80 minutes of play.
“We clearly dominated regulation play, maintaining possession and making the majority of the shots on goal,” Sargent said. “But then we went into overtime where we had to shoot penalty kicks, which is something our players have never experienced before in a tournament game.”
Initially, Middle Park held its own in the first round, making four penalty kicks to Fountain’s four penalty kicks. In the seventh kick in the second round, Fountain made their kick while the Lady Panthers did not.
“With minimal experience and practice at penalty kicking, our girls were very composed and did a great job,” Sargent said. “Ultimately, the other team won the game 2-1 in that second round of penalty kicks.”
Despite the sudden-death loss, Middle Park’s players were unfazed, displaying only excitement and pride in their performance.
“Everyone realized how well we had played the season’s first game and were thrilled,” Sargent said. “It was the most creative and best quality of play in the eight years of this team. All of our players knew they were making history.”
Focusing on their achievements instead of the final score, the Lady Panthers studied the lessons learned from the first game and prepared themselves for the next day’s play.
“During the debriefing of that first game, our players were very energized,” Sargent said. “We regrouped, set goals and got ready to play and win our next two games.”
They got to put all that energy and enthusiasm to work in Saturday morning’s game against Harrison, a 4A division team.
It turned into a runaway 10-0 shutout victory for the Lady Panthers. The game actually ended about 15 minutes early after the CHSAA’s 10-goal rule kicked in.
“This was the biggest scoring differential in our team’s history,” Sargent said. “We clearly dominated from start to finish. We made 27 shots on goal to Harrison’s one, but more importantly was our individual stats ” our 50/50, steals, shots on goal ” increased for nearly every player on our team in comparison to Friday’s first game.
The individual efforts by our players were clearly reflected in the final score.”
Six of Middle Park’s players scored against Harrison ” Kaylee Findley, 3 goals; Lindsey Birdseye, 2 goals; Hannah Levett, 2 goals; Ryndi Zastrow, 1 goal; Andy Huston, 1 goal; and Kathryn Woodard, 1 goal.
It became so obvious early in the game that Middle Park was going to win it, that six junior varsity players were substituted into the game to gain some playing experience.
“All of them played between half and three-quarters of the game,” Sargent said. “It was a good game to give our JVs some solid minutes of playing time.”
The Lady Panthers finished off the Mesa Ridge Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Mitchell, a 5A division team from Colorado Springs.
“Mitchell initially came out very strong and energized against us,” Sargent said. “They have a tall and aggressive front line that sort of confused our defense, but after the first 10 minutes, our defenders adapted and responded quickly to make immediate changes. With those changes, we took command of the game.”
Ryndi Zastrow led Middle Park’s offense, scoring both of the team’s goals. Her goals were on through balls from Lindsey Birdseye and Hannah Levett.
“We made 22 shots on goal to their six,” Sargent said. “More importantly, we played with more creativity, had precision on our through balls and kept our shots on the ground.”
“We left the tournament with a winning record,” Sargent said. “We also achieved the three goals we had set going into it. The first is to win more than we lose; the second is have at least 10 different players score a goal this season; and the third is to score at least one goal a game. Six of our players score at least one goal in this tournament.”
Sargent praised the performances of several players including Birdseye, Zastrow and Levett. She especially commended the playing of goalkeeper Angela Malley, saying she made some “great saves.”
With their first games behind them, the Lady Panthers are now setting their sights on the next games.
Middle Park’s varsity will be playing Frontier Academy in an 11 a.m. game on Saturday. The Lady Panther JVs will open their season with their first game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Lutheran.
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