Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Back to basics. Back in form.
Back in the win column.
The Durango High School girls soccer team shored up its game after a lackluster performance Saturday, looking more like itself again in pulling away for a 4-2 victory over rival Montezuma-Cortez on Thursday at Riverview Sports Complex.
Head coach Dalon Parker said the Demons (4-2-1, 2-2-1 Southwestern League) were fundamentally heavy in practice this week, hoping to clean up the issues that plagued them in an uncharacteristically flat performance in Saturday’s loss to Grand Junction.
“We switched our formation a little bit, and we switched player personnel a little bit, and we said, ‘You know what? We’re going to go all the way back to the basics.’ ... And the girls really benefitted,” Parker said. It came to fruition in the second half, when the Demons started to get better flow in their offense and finally found a way to put away the pesky Panthers (2-3-2, 0-3-2 SWL). Steffie Wilson put Durango in front for good with a gorgeous volley off a cross that cut across the top of the penalty area from left to right, and her left-footed shot tucked into the back of the net in the 61st minute.In the 69th minute, Bella Bernazzani and Jessi Sigillito combined for an insurance tally. Bernazzani’s corner kick bent neatly toward the near post, where Sigillito deflected it home for a 4-2 DHS lead.
Bernazzani showed her skills as a set-piece marvel in the making Thursday, scoring the first goal of the evening to go with her later assist. The junior’s free kick from about 35 yards out from the right wing in the eighth minute started out high and to the right, then took the kind of bend that buckles goalkeepers’ knees and found its way inside the far post for a 1-0 lead. “It’s huge. I mean, basically Bella’s balls are right on every time, and it’s just so dangerous,” Wilson said.
“She’s dangerous, isn’t she? She’s beautiful to watch,” Parker said.The Panthers equalized in the 15th minute on a weird-looking play. Kenna Tarr’s long ball found its way on frame, and DHS goalkeeper Hannah Robertson seemed to have some trouble negotiating the combination of the sun and hard-charging Elana Bernholtz, who deflected it past Robertson to square the game at 1. Allison Porter also hit the crossbar later in the half on a quality scoring chance for the Panthers.
“They had three solid chances in the first half, and two of those were because we made mistakes,” Parker said. “I told them at half, ‘If you go to zero mistakes, you win the game.’”Wilson, however, put DHS in front again in the 24th minute, also on a quality one-touch strike. As the ball skipped right to left across the top of the penalty area, Wilson beat her defender to the ball by a step and cut loose with her right foot, falling to the turf as her salvo found the back of the net.“My players played me an amazing ball, and I saw that I had an open shot on goal and also had players closing in on me, so if I took a touch, it would likely be taken away,” said Wilson, daughter of Kathy and Steve Wilson. “So I just decided I’d better one-touch it – ended up working out pretty well.”Cortez equalized again after being awarded a penalty kick in the 39th minute. Porter beat Robertson low and left.
DHS switched up some things Thursday, partly to give a new look and partly to cover for the absence of two key players: Senior defender Stephanie Ogier was out with an injured medial collateral ligament, while sophomore midfielder Lauren Milliet missed the game with a strained hip flexor.
As a result, DHS went with four defenders for stretches and moved Bernazzani from central midfield to center back.