Though the team is small – only 12 girls – according to Ridgway/Ouray soccer coach Tim Lyons, “They want to play; they’re committed.”
Even when it’s snowing in Ouray, as it was for practice the day I called. “There was too much snow on the Ridgway field,” Lyons said. “Because of the thermal qualities [at Hot Springs Park in Ouray], that field was more open.” But it was snowing, hard. Running, dribbling, passing, crossing, juggling the ball in a snowstorm: Welcome to soccer season in the San Juans.
In his first year as head coach, Lyons inherited a strong soccer tradition from previous coach Chuck Siefken. (Lyons, who is the business and tech teacher at Ridgway Secondary School, was an assistant to Siefken beginning in 2005.)
“We’re a pretty small team, with just 12 girls,” Lyons said. “That leaves us with not many subs. It’s going to be one of those seasons where the girls all get to play a lot. And we hope there won’t be injuries or absences.”
The combined Ridgway and Ouray high school team will have two seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and five freshmen. All but two players are from the Ridgway program.
Lyons is looking to returning senior Morgan Jossi “for leadership” on the team. And to senior Savanah Davis. “She’s our sweeper, a sturdy defender.” Lyons also sees “a lot of strength in the juniors on the squad.
“The girls have had successful seasons the last four or five years,” he continued. “This year we’re shooting to get past the first round at the state tournament. Our teams have not gone beyond the first round of state yet.”
Last year’s 6-4 Ridgway team lost in the opening round to defending state champion St. Mary’s High School of Colorado Springs. The Pirates went on to take the title for a second consecutive season. St. Mary’s is a 3A school. Ridgway is 2A. But because not all schools have soccer teams, the state tournament sets the top teams from 1A, 2A and 3A against one another.
“It’s tough when you play those powerhouse teams on the East Slope,” Lyons said. “It’s definitely different from the 1A and 2A teams in our [San Juan] league.”
Last year’s Telluride girls team (with a 9-3 regular season record) also lost in the first round, to 10-2-2 Aspen High School.
In 2009, an undefeated Ridgway (7-0-2) lost a heartbreaker 1-0 in the first round at state to 3A Evangelical Christian Academy.
This season, Lyons and his small but committed team from the snowy Uncompahgre Valley hope to do better at the state meet, which takes place in May. The final is May 24 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, northeast of Denver on the edge of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.
Ridgway/Ouray opens the season on Friday, March 14 at Bayfield.