DN Tigresses take down Lady Cats, 4-nil

IGNACIO — It wasn’t that Russell Randolph thought his team was playing as though late to rise.

‘Lazy’ simply meant he was looking for the Lady Tigers who’d been so early—and eager—to prey.

“I did say that,” laughed the Del Norte girls’ soccer skipper, addressing his second-half unrest along the visitors’ sideline Friday afternoon.  “No matter the game I always want them to give everything they’ve got.  That’s what you’re looking for, something to improve your team; the result’s not really what you’re looking for.”

But that wasn’t meant to—and didn’t—discount the importance of the first-year program’s third victory.

Getting a second-minute goal through traffic from freshman forward Kendra Parra, as well as an 81st-minute finish from senior Ashley Rivera only seconds before the full-time whistle, DNHS earned a 4-nil road win at Ignacio—overshadowing a quality performance by IHS’ first-time goalie Bailey Wyatt.

Sophomore Sophia McConnell netted the guests’ second goal—accidentally, with a re-routed crossing pass caroming off a defender’s backside—in the 27th for a 2-0 lead which held into halftime, and Parra increased it to 3-0 in the 70th by converting a Brianna Gallegos set-up.

And the damage could have been much worse.

A hand-ball called against Lady Bobcat defender Gabrianna Creason just before intermission resulted in sophomore Triniti Rivera taking a penalty kick in the 40th minute, but her shot clanged off Wyatt’s right-side post.  An identical infraction against Ignacio’s Jaylene Riepel gave McConnell an undisturbed chance from the spot in the 51st, but Wyatt—a senior who chose not to play her junior year—made the save.

She would finish with 16 total stops unofficially, as Del Norte (3-6 overall, 2-4 against the full 3A/2A Intermountain League) put 20 shots on frame and fired 29 overall.  The Tigresses also generated ten corner kicks while allowing Ignacio (0-7, 0-7) just one, and did not permit an actual shot on senior keeper Bailey Jones.

Jones, however, did have to collect three balls close enough to potentially dirty the clean sheet.

“I thought we should have been more aggressive,” said Randolph.  “I think we would have had a few more opportunities, and I’d love to get the girls some more goals.  But a couple were definitely because we crashed the net, and that’s something that, again, comes with experience.”

“They’ve got to be willing to…anticipate: ‘It might be there, the opportunity might exist, so I need to be there myself!’  That’s something that will come.”

Up next for Del Norte will be an April 25 trip to Gunnison to face Crested Butte Community School (3-6, 3-5) on the neutral ground of GHS at 5:00 p.m.  And after meeting Center in Pagosa Springs on the 24th and hosting Bayfield on the 26th, IHS is slated to visit on the 27th for a 4 p.m. rematch.

“We possessed the ball better than we have in the past…I thought we did some really good things,” Randolph said.  “Our plans are to keep getting better every game.  And they’re still learning the game; I mean, the first year…they haven’t played a whole lot and so they make decisions sometimes that I question.”

“But at the same time the only way they’ll learn is from experience, and I’m proud of them for that.”

Caption: Del Norte senior AnnaRose Phelps (10) dribbles forward during Friday’s road match in Ignacio.