Melissa Halonen had waited a year and a half for her first game as head coach of the Durango High School girls soccer team. It finally came Tuesday.
“I had been with these girls for so long, but this was my first game. It’s exciting,” she said after Tuesday’s home opener against Bayfield High School. “I was nervous and excited (Monday) night, and it’s just so great to be able to finally play.”
A new head coach a year ago, Halonen and the rest of Colorado saw the girls soccer season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the first-year coach and the Demons were eager to finally get after it Tuesday on their home field. After testing the waters a bit in the opening few minutes, the Demons (1-0) exploded against the Wolverines (0-1) to secure a 9-0 victory.
“It’s great. Everybody worked hard today, got some goals and some good touches. That’s what matters,” said DHS sophomore Mason Rowland, who scored three consecutive goals to give DHS a 4-0 lead.
Rowland and her older sister Kyle, who scored one goal, both just returned from the DHS volleyball team after that season ended Saturday. On limited practice time together, DHS showed no problem adapting quickly to a new sport, a new coach and a new system.
“It was good to get the ice broken and score those goals and connect passes together,” Halonen said. “We are playing a new system for a lot of the girls, so a game like this to get comfortable was great.”
It was Georgia Landeryou who got the first goal for the Demons.
After Mason Rowland’s onslaught, Clara Krull then scored twice. Sarah Somrak would get two of her own, and Kyle Rowland would score the last.
Jocelyn Feir started in goal and got the win for the Demons.
Bayfield (0-1) is also learning a new system under head coach Chris Zoltowski. He was pleased with the first 10 minutes but said the Wolverines lost the shape of their formation after allowing the first few goals.
“I’m really excited about this new formation, and we were able to catch some film on it today so we can talk pros and cons,” he said. “Getting out here and playing again after the year we had, it’s like a family reunion. I am so happy for our seniors to get back out here and have this opportunity.”
Zoltowski is eager to see his attackers get a chance to shine in 2021. He will look to freshman Preslie Wagner to have an impact inside of junior wingers Emaliah Sawyer and Mattie Moore. He is also confident in his senior captains Jaden Cooper and Cayanne Carlson and his experienced defensive back line.
“We are very solid on the back line and can deliver,” Zoltowski said. “Our offensive players do well communicating, and I look forward to seeing what they can do together.
BHS is back in action at 4 p.m. Friday at home against Salida. Durango will start league action at 5 p.m. Thursday at Grand Junction.
“It’s going to be a tough league with Junction, Montrose and Fruita,” Halonen said. “I think we can compete right up there with them and give them a run. It’s going to be a competitive, tough and quick season.”