With Maestas scoring game's only goal, 'Dogs dominate second half to win season opener
It was a good start to the season for the Palisade High School girls soccer team.
The Bulldogs overcame a choppy first half to control the second half and secure a 1-0 win over Glenwood Springs at the Peach Bowl on Thursday.
Senior Cruz Maestas, who joined the team this week after the end of basketball season, scored the game’s lone goal, tapping in a shot in the 76th minute.
Even though it was the season opener for both teams, the game was a Class 4A Western Slope League contest.
Palisade coach Raina Sorensen was happy with the victory.
“We were working on our possession and moving the ball, and that first half, you could tell it was our first game,” she said. “We had those first-game jitters, and the touches didn’t go quite right. In the second half, the girls turned it around, and they showed more of the team that they’re going to become as we get more time together.”
After a first half where both teams struggled with ball possession and battled mostly in the midfield, the Bulldogs increased the offensive pressure in the second half.
With Maestas using her speed to chase down long passes, the Bulldogs had a number of scoring chances.
At the 47th minute, Maestas’ shot went high. Then, she lost control of the ball on a couple of possessions that looked to be good scoring chances.
Sorensen said even with limited practice time, Maestas was still a difference maker.
“I know I can count on Cruz when she’s coming from basketball,” she said. “I don’t worry about her getting her touch back or her fitness back, because even if it’s not quite there, she fights through it. She works so hard, and she plays with her heart.”
Maya Hilty, India Hilty and Nicole Harkreader all applied offensive pressure at different times in the second half for Palisade.
In the back, senior goalkeeper Katie Dunn was efficient, showing her skill and experience whenever tested.
Glenwood’s Carol Stepniewski had a shot on goal that Dunn easily saved in the first half. In the 54th minute, Glenwood had its best scoring chance, and Dunn had to make a diving stop.
Sorensen said having an experienced goalkeeper like Dunn is a key to the Bulldogs’ success.
“She’s confident but not overconfident, she’s very skilled,” Sorensen said about Dunn, who is in her third season as a starter. “What she did today is what we expect from her in every game.”
Glenwood coach Steve White said he thought Dunn played an excellent game.
Like Maestas, Glenwood goalkeeper Bella Diaz joined the soccer team this week after the basketball season’s playoffs.
Playing on a blustery but dry afternoon, it was an oddly rare occurrence for Glenwood. White said the game was only the third time this season the team has been outdoors. With the limited outside practice time, the veteran coach said the Demons are still working on the little things.
“We were trying to be organized in the back and using thirds of the field the most effective way,” he said “It’s going to get better as we go.”