Harrison High School’s boys soccer team had time to complete their match, get a talk in the locker room and catch the activity bus after their swift victory Sept. 8.
The Panthers defeated Pueblo East 11-0 in just one half at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium to earn their first win of the year.
Their contest lasted just one half due to the 10-goal mercy rule set by Colorado High School Activities Association.
“We talked about what we wanted the season to look like and 0-4 wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” said Panthers coach Chris Mason. “It was humbling and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you come with, you have to show up that day to play. It was frustrating as we have a skilled team and quality group of players off the field and it was frustrating to start sloe. Regardless of what kind of game it was it’s good to get a win.”
Last season, Harrison (1-4) finished 7-1 in the coronavirus-marred, Season C, and began this year on a four-game losing streak.
Most challenging for Mason with those four losses was each defeat was by one goal.
Prior to their tilt with Pueblo East, teams outscored Harrison 7-3 including a pair of shutouts.
Harrison’s 11 goals against the Eagles marked the Panthers’ highest total since March when they defeated Palmer 11-1.
Mason said scoring the slew of goals in the contest will serve as a confidence boost for the Panthers.
“To be able to implement some of the things we’ve done in practice and feel good about the way we play will be tremendous for us going forward,” Mason said.
The first of Harrison’s 11 goals came just 43 seconds into the match. Mateo Padron notched a hat trick in the contest and put Harrison ahead 1-0 with 39:17 on the clock.
Four minutes later, Jose Mendoza made it 2-0 after his shot from 20 yards rolled in the goal following the Eagles’ keeper mishandling of the shot.
The Panthers peppered the Eagles with five more goals in the next 20 minutes with strikes from Geovanny Acosta, Jason Santibanez, Emmanuel Sanchez and a pair from Padron including a 22-yard bomb to make it 7-0 with 20:16 left in the contest.
Padron was happy for the win, but the slow start to the season and a victory against subpar Pueblo East nullified his feelings toward the hat trick.
“It doesn’t feel too great considering this isn’t a great team,” Padron said. “It’s still early in the season and we’re not where we want to be.”
Per CHSAA rules, running clock begins after a team goes ahead by seven goals and after their eighth strike, which occurred with 14:22 on the clock, Harrison played a man down, also per CHSAA guidelines.
Despite the rules, Harrison managed another three goals in the final 10 minutes.
Santibanez, Christopher Nolasco and Gregory Miller each tallied a goal including Miller’s chip shot with 3 minutes on the clock.
Mason said in their previous contests, the Panthers played with seven or eight players at a high level. He appreciated them functioning as a team against Pueblo East.
“What we saw today was 11 players playing together and as a cohesive unit,” Mason said. “Moving forward I think that will make the biggest difference because we’ll have trust in our 11. It’ll give us that grit and resilience that we can put goals on the board.”
Santibanez shared Mason’s feelings and said he’s grateful for the victory but expects this momentum to continue.
“It was nice to see improvement not just in myself but in the team,” Santibanez said. “Like Mateo said, we’re not where we want to be quite yet and we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Harrison hopes to bring that momentum to Falcon (0-3) in a swift turnaround. The Panthers host the Falcons at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 9.