Granby " Middle Park girls soccer team wins, but coaches cite need for improvements |

Granby " Middle Park girls soccer team wins, but coaches cite need for improvements

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Although it was another victory, last Friday’s 2-0 win by Middle Park High’s girls soccer team over Montbello was a less-than-robust performance that the Lady Panthers realize must be improved upon if they want to achieve their goals this season.

The positive aspects of the game for the Lady Panthers included the unassisted goal scored by Lindsey Birdseye in the first half. Middle Park’s second goal was earned after halftime by Ryndi Zastrow, who scored it on a rebound off a goalie deflection.

What the team’s coaches found negative about Friday’s win was the points spread, which was much less than in previous years. For the past three years, Middle Park had beaten Montbello by scores of 5-0.

“After that game and the discussions we had about it, I think our players are now aware that they still need to improve in specific areas,” said coach Molly Sargent.

“They have got to be able to adapt to conditions, tighten up the defense, connect passes to the foot and communicate better. And we’ve got to do it soon because we start Metro League competition next week.”

According to Sargent, one of the most troubling aspects of Friday’s game was the team’s inability to adapt to the weather and turf conditions on Montbello’s field.

“It was a beautiful day but cold and very windy,” Sargent said. “We didn’t respond well to the wind. I realize that with a lateral wind such as we had Friday, it would have been a challenge for any athlete or team, but that only means that we have got to be better at being proactive. That means we have to work hard at keeping the ball down and striking it well.”

Another challenging aspect of Friday’s game for the Lady Panthers was the condition of Montbello’s field.

“Montbello has a turf field that’s like the one in our new indoor facility,” Sargent said. “However, its turf is much shorter than ours and that makes it a lot quicker.”

Although the Lady Panthers did score a goal in the first half, the coaches were disappointed with the team’s inability to adjust their play to the conditions.

“The quickness of the turf as well as that overwhelming wind were two big challenges that we did not do anything about in the first half,” Sargent said. “As a result, our passes went erratically into the air and our shots went over the net. We one-touched the ball instead of controlling it. It was very frustrating.”

Halftime turned into a major coaching session for the team as it rested and prepared for the second half.

“We regrouped over halftime once again,” Sargent said. “It was emphasized that we had to get the ball down, connect passes to feet, use defensive drop passes and control the ball with at least two touches. If we wanted to walk away with a win, that was only going to happen if we played better and together as a team.”

From that halftime coaching session, the Lady Panthers returned to the field and played a much improved second half.

“From our halftime conversations, the girls came out with drive and a real desire to pursue their goals,” Sargent said. “Overall, their ability to adapt their play after halftime continues to be a big strength of this team.”

With Friday’s victory over Montbello, the Lady Panthers now have a 4-1 record for the new season.

“Right now, our team continues to have a winning record,” Sargent said. “A 4-1 record is excellent when you realize that the best our program has done in the past is a 5-10 season record. That’s exciting.”

Despite that encouraging early season record, Sargent is not minimizing the challenges ahead.

“Our players are practicing this week with purpose, persistence and passion,” she said. “They want to be prepared for the very grueling week of games starting this Friday, March 28. We’re scheduled to play five varsity games in seven days, including our first Metro League games.”

This Friday, the Lady Panthers will travel to Berthoud for a 4 p.m. junior varsity game and 6 p.m. varsity game.

“This is a very important game,” Sargent said. “In past years, it was a pretty even match between us and Berthoud until last year, when we lost 7-0 to them. So our veteran players have an intense purpose for this game.”

Then on Monday, March 31, the Lady Panthers are scheduled to play their first Metro League game of the season against the Buffaloes of Bishop Machebeuf. The varsity game is at 4 p.m., followed by the JVs at 5:45 p.m.

“We tentatively will be hosting a home game on Tuesday, April 1, against Denver Christian,” Sargent said. “On Wednesday, April 2, we’re also tentatively scheduled to host Denver Lutheran in a JV-only game. Then on Thursday, we’re suppose to host St. Mary’s for varsity and junior varsity games.”

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