ALAMOSA – It wasn’t that the wait Friday afternoon was killing her.
In fact, McKenna Noonan of Bayfield hadn’t exactly planned on having to wait at all for a goal to be scored against her.
“Until last week I didn’t know I was going to be playing goalie,” the first-year junior said. “I was just going to play defense, and then … (head coach Scott Key) just threw me in as a goalie. I got the gloves and was like, ‘Well, this is more fun.’ And from volleyball I’m just used to being on the ground.”
“But I wasn’t expecting this – I didn’t even think I was going to start,” she said. “And then coach told me, ‘You’re starting goalie’ and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I was terrified.”
Noonan noted it came as something of a relief that it took only eight minutes for opposing Alamosa to get a ball into her net. Senior Annahi Molina converted an assist from classmate Abby Wubben – equaling BHS sophomore Sydney Rey’s third-minute icebreaker assisted by junior Preslie Wagner, but intensifying the Wolverines’ focus.
“It was kind of, like, the ball didn’t come to my end as much, there wasn’t as many open shots for them,” Noonan said. “So it definitely took the pressure off my shoulders a bit.”
But as the road match wore on, first-year varsity skipper Key’s patience wore down. Not in a bad way, however; rather, he sensed the Mean Moose were on the verge of breaking. But even with a stiff, chilling San Luis Valley breeze at their backs, his players, trusting their footwork, appeared hesitant to hazard a long-range shot.
Joined by sophomore Tanna Owens and junior Brylee Sampley, Rey and Wagner repeatedly pushed the ball deep inside AHS’ penalty area, but as the 80th minute ticked into nothing, Bayfield had nothing more to show on the scoreboard.
After an impassioned pep talk from Key, practically pleading with his team to simply shoot more before the first 10-minute overtime session, that quickly changed.
“The wind helped,” said grinning senior Abria Thayer. “We’d played against it, and coach just told us in the second half to take the wind as an advantage. So I think we definitely used that; it was our main tactic.”
Intercepting a poor Alamosa clearance pass just over 20 yards away from goal, Thayer stepped into a shot exceeding AHS keeper Emily Tibbitts’ reach and going into history as an 83rd-minute winner.
“I thought Sydney was probably going to take it, but I guess I got it,” Thayer said. “It came to me and I just pounded it. Wasn’t expecting it to go in, but it did.”
“Personally, I didn’t know it was ‘first score wins,’ so when I saw Abria make it I was going crazy – and not even knowing we’d just won,” Noonan said. “I didn’t think it was going in, from where I was, so I was really happy about it.”
“The wind was horrible, but the game was really good for us,” she said. “A good start to the season.”
The Wolverines (1-0, 0-0 3A Southwestern) will next host Pagosa Springs (0-3, 0-0) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
“I think we just had to use this game as kind of a learning experience,” Thayer said. “It was definitely hard (practicing) with all the snow, but we’ll just keep learning every game.”