Telluride head coach Ramon Rodriguez didn’t necessarily want to throw his reserve goalkeeper to the wolves.
But in wanting to rest regular Jayden Fortner, and preserve as much of the junior’s mental focus as possible in preparation for the next afternoon’s showdown at Crested Butte – a clash likely to determine the 2A Intermountain-South champion – he really had no choice on Tuesday but to utilize backup Abby Vidal.
There was only one problem: Durango.
Ranked No. 9 in Class 4A by CHSAANow.com, but needing to atone for a 2-1 loss on Monday at Fort Lewis College’s Dirks Field to Parker-based 5A Legend, the Demons weathered a first-half rain and snow squall to build a 3-0 halftime lead. And while three goals had been the magic number in an overtime victory Friday over 4A/5A Southwestern foe Montrose, Durango made sure THS would need more than three goals to swipe a win on DHS’ turf.
Just two minutes into the second 40-minute half, junior Sarah Somrak forced a Mason Rowland throw-in past Vidal for Durango’s fourth marker. Somrak then assisted on Rowland’s 50th-minute finish as DHS went up 5-0. Not even a full minute later, the Demons struck again, then increased their advantage to 7-0 when sophomore Bella Saren scored in the 62nd.
Teagan Reese converted fellow senior Rowland’s crossing pass in the 65th. Rowland then scored in the 70th (assisted by Sophie Ragsdale) and 76th minutes – giving her a match-best four goals – to sew up a 10-0 mercy-rule triumph.
“We changed things up in the second half, to try to prepare for future games,” said DHS head coach Melissa Halonen. “Having Bella in the center helped with the attack, but we also added some stability to our back line – and it looked really good to us.”
Senior Riley Campbell scored twice in the rout. With freshman goalie Ryne Neiman starting in net, and junior Riley Dastrup keeping the shutout intact throughout the second half, Durango improved to 8-3 overall while remaining 5-1 in the SWL.
“We’d had a couple rough games, as far as our confidence, so today was much-needed for us,” Halonen said.
Unable to recover from a 2-1 loss at league rival Ridgway last week, THS slipped to 3-6 overall.
Up next, the Demons will host Aspen at 6 p.m. Friday. AHS – a 12-win, Class 3A state tournament Sweet 16 squad last season – stood 5-4 overall before a 3A Western Slope rumble with Rifle (4-7) on Thursday. Durango will then wrap up SWL work hosting 4A Grand Junction Central on Cinco de Mayo, and 5A Fruita Monument the following afternoon.
“We’ll just be building off of today, and remembering that our style of play – a possession style – is better than, you know, trying to counter and play super direct,” Halonen said. “There’s a time and a place for that, but I think they figured out today that it definitely opens up some more space, creates more chances for us.”