The new-look Bayfield boys soccer team opened the season with a new result and a collective smile.
The Wolverines played visiting Montezuma-Cortez to an entertaining 1-1 draw Tuesday at Wolverine Country Stadium – a tie even after two 5-minute overtimes and almost 50 shots (31 on goal).
With an emphasis on possession and a propensity to attack with speed, the new edition Wolverines scored in the ninth minute of the season opener.
Junior Kyle McAfee sped up the left sideline, angling toward the Cortez goal. His early shot banged off the crossbar to sophomore Austin Isiordia, who controlled the ball and knocked it into the open net.
The 1-0 lead held up until the 55th minute when the Panthers tied the match after taking advantage of a turnover deep in the Bayfield end.
Junior captain Jaron Carver converted the gift goal to even the match.
But the fireworks were only beginning for Bayfield goalkeeper James Young, who turned back 16 shots from the Panthers.
Cortez reserve keeper Bridger Brenner, who took over in the second half, had to stop 11 BHS shots in the final 40 minutes and OT.
“I’m very pleaded that we executed with passing and moving the ball around,” Bayfield head coach Terry Spriggs said. “We were letting the ball do the work. And it all comes from possession.”
Bayfield was able to create scoring chances by controlling the ball.
“For the most part of that (match), we did that,” Spriggs said.
By the second half in the hot, sunny conditions, he said both teams wilted.
“Both teams were starting to get really fatigued (at the end),” Spriggs said.
Bayfield had scoring opportunities by Alex Vitagliano, Samuel Kundrik, Myles Popke and Ben Young, among others.
Spriggs’ credited the Bayfield defense, led by sweeper Keith Wickman.
“We’ve got Wickman in that sweeper role. His speed is amazing, as you saw,” Spriggs said after watching the speedy Wickman rescue the Wolverines with clearing kicks.
“He’s very good at anticipating the passing ... he can see the play develop,” Spriggs said.
“I was hoping we’d beat them in overtime,” said Wickman, a returning all-conference defender. “But, it’s still good to get a tie to get things going.”
The Wolverines, who lost to Cortez 3-0 last year, will host the Durango junior varsity at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“I’m just happy they’ve got the smiles on their faces,” Spriggs said. “They know they’ve improved so much over a year ago. They worked really hard to do that.”