The Jason LeMere era for Boulder girls soccer started with a hard-fought loss against 10th-ranked Rock Canyon Thursday.
With three seniors on the roster committed to playing at the next level and a host of other girls hungry for a fresh start, the feeling is the Panthers will compete every game. Friday's follow-up contest against Cherokee Trail was gritty, physical and promising.
Jess Tierney's goal in the 55th minute at Recht Field got the Panthers a lead, but Cherokee Trail came back to forge a 1-1 draw after a rare red card was issued to Tierney's sister Mackenzie in the 60th minute.
"We have a lot of talent, some very talented seniors and it's just a matter of learning a new system in a tough situation with me being brought on pretty late," said LeMere, who came to BHS from The Pinnacle after turning that program into a contender. "There's a lot of learning to do, but obviously we're pretty optimistic of our start and we have a week to work on some things before our next games."
The teams played an overtime game for the second year in a row, only last time the Panthers managed to get a winner. This time, after watching a couple late corner kicks set up well without a goal to end regulation, Boulder had control of play but could not pocket a walk-off.
Boulder had some quality chances in the first half, with a Alia Mentzell rocket hitting the crossbar from 20 yards out just 16 minutes in and a couple of corner kicks that were set up well but proved fruitless.
They finally broke through when Jess Tierney was in the right place at the right time, tapping a loose ball into the corner on a mishandle from goalie Taylor Heil 15 minutes past halftime.
Ally Murphy-Pauletto almost made it 2-0 just 3 minutes later — Heil grabbed a pop-up right at the post — but Boulder had to play the remaining 25 minutes, including both overtime sessions, with one less player.
"They said she was the last defender on a breakaway so it doesn't matter the severity of the penalty, it's always a red card," LeMere said. "We showed some character when we were down one and we were able to fight them off from a second goal. I'm all right with that."
Delaney McLelland, a speedy sophomore for Cherokee Trail, put a lengthy shot over the top of Faviola Morquecho in the 65th minute, and that proved to be the final tally.
"Even playing down a player I think we did pretty well," said Jess Tierney, a Puget Sound signee. "We're playing a completely new system right now and just trying to find our flanks out wide and use that.
"Even though it's a new (system), it feels like we've been playing together a long time. The passion is there."
Morquecho came out and challenged several Cherokee Trail runs throughout the game, putting her body on the line to get her hands on the ball or block a shot early in flight.
She finished with 10 saves.
Boulder 1, Cherokee Trail 1 (2OT)
At Recht FieldCherokee Trail 0 1 0 0 — 1
Boulder 0 1 0 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Jess Tierney (unassisted), 55th minute; Cherokee Trail: Delaney McLelland (unassisted), 65th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Cherokee Trail: Taylor Heil (80-1-12); Boulder: Faviola Morquecho (80-1-10).