Similar to how the Montrose boys soccer team approached the 2021 season, the girls team also participated in a fall club season, gaining some additional reps after their 2021 spring season was lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The girls have been at it since January, and turnout has been strong, said Indians coach Cassie Snyder, who also coaches the boys team and led them to a 6-4 record, their second straight Southwestern League title and a playoff appearance this spring.
“The culture of the program has changed,” Snyder said of the girls’ buy-in. “The girls are ready to have success and put the time and effort in to get better.”
The girls have continued that trend as the season nears, attending non-mandatory practices, much of which focused on improving the girls’ fitness levels. The girls, Snyder said, recognize the value of those practices, aware they lost a full season of games that traditionally provides experience and time to work on improving their skills.
In many ways, the girls know they’re making up for lost time.
“It was crushing for so many of them to not have that season, and I think that in itself makes it hungrier for them,” Snyder said. “And they want to get better, and they recognize that’s what needs to happen, and they want to have the season they are capable of having.”
It’s why much of the focus, and the message, will be on growth and getting better every day, Snyder said. That’s all the girls can do after losing one of their four high school capaigns, and it helps that incoming freshmen were able to play with returning varsity players during the club season. There’s been plenty of culture building leading up to the 2021 season, especially with turnout rate so high.
One of those returning varsity players is Josie Coulter, who scored 20 goals two years ago as a freshman. She’ll be looking for an encore of that performance as one of the team’s strikers, and Snyder anticipates she’ll have a similar season.
Coulter is joined by Sierra Maestas, a center back for the Indians tasked with getting their backline where it needs to be. And Alexis Martinez, one of the team’s seniors, previously played outside back for Montrose, but she’ll move over to striker. It’s a position she’s been playing throughout the club season, and has already shown early flashes that she could play well in that spot.
The upperclassmen will lead a roster that features more sophomores and freshmen. Some freshmen, Snyder said, will make the varsity team. And the team could mesh quickly, considering their talent.
“The exciting thing for me is this is the most skilled the girls program has ever been since I’ve been here,” Snyder said. “There’s the most skill across the program we’ve ever had.”
The girls finished 9-7 in 2019, but were 3-5 in SWL play. They, like the boys, are limited to 10 regular season games this spring due to the schedule restructure from CHSAA.
Also, the girls will have an alternating home/away format, with just one instance all season where they’re scheduled to play back-to-back away games.
The Indians open their season at home on Tuesday, May 11 against Grand Junction at 5 p.m.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press