Already unafraid of getting her hands dirty on a field or at a farm – she and her older sister both raise and travel the country showing their pigs – Rylee Pearson’s tolerance for pain was definitely another trait which served her well in net as she’d face enemy shots by the bunch.
Ultimately sidelined during the 2019 soccer season’s last couple weeks by an ankle wrenched more seriously than even she could stand, Pearson’s absence was verbally noted to Ignacio High School girls soccer head coach Alisha Gullion by both opponents and officials – a clear indication the energetic sophomore had earned respect across the length and breadth of the 3A/2A Southwestern League this spring.
And when the All-SWL Teams were announced late last week, the Ignacio goalie – who would wear beneath her keeper’s jersey a layer formerly blood-stained around one shoulder as a result of a pre-spring break save in which she smothered both the ball and a missing goal-frame screw and hardly felt the puncture – was included as a second-team selection.
“I washed it, it’s now my ‘good-luck’ shirt,” she joked after the Bobcats hosted Del Norte on April 12. “One of the screws fell out of our net, and I landed right on it. Went through my shoulder and just through and down.”
Pearson’s play wasn’t only good enough to be named to the second team, she also was named the team MVP.
“At first, I had trouble picking a girl because they all had these shining moments throughout the season,” Gullion said, alluding to her decision on which of her players to nominate for postseason props. “Then (athletic director Rocky Cundiff) asked me which girl was MVP on the field and who it was most difficult to be without. When he put it that way, the clear answer was Rylee. You could see how much the team relied on her every game. She would make an amazing save and the whole energy on the field would spike.”
Joining Pearson in receiving a second team salute was Bayfield freshman Maddy Oltmanns, who led the Wolverines in goals scored with 12. Also receiving All-SWL second-team honors from amongst its 3A sides were Montezuma-Cortez’s Paige Yarbrough, Alamosa’s Melody Lipke and Pagosa Springs’ Nicole Bartz.
Crested Butte Community School teammates Emmie Houseman and Rachel Potoker were also named Second Team All-SWL from amongst its 2A crews, along with Telluride’s Margaux Lovely and Niki Borland, Del Norte’s Triniti Rivera, Ridgway’s Samantha Scherner and Center’s Giselle Almeida.
Overcoming her own well-noted, early-season injury absence, BHS sophomore Halle Loveday’s four goals and a team-high five assists paired with her defensive play was crucial to Bayfield remaining hopeful for a state tournament berth until the last week of regular-season action, and helped make her an easy All-SWL first-team pick.
First teamer Karina Davalos was chosen SWL Player-of-the-Year after helping lead Crested Butte, skippered by coach of the year Julia Kidd, to dominant Class 2A state tournament wins over Colorado Springs-based Thomas MacLaren School and Loveland’s Classical High School, before a loss in the semifinals to Lafayette-based Dawson School. Crested Butte went 14-3-1 overall and also had first-team picks Tess Fenerty and Siena Truex.
Sharing Goalkeeper-of-the-Year status were Claire Shaver of Telluride (12-5-0; lost in the 2A quarterfinals to Denver Christian) and Trista Tulley of Pagosa Springs (6-8-2; lost in the 3A tournament’s opening round to Colorado Academy, the Denver-based eventual state champions). Shaver and Miner ’mate Sam Morrell were also voted first team All-SWL along with Pagosa’s Morgan Thompson, Cortez’s McKenzy Howerton, Ridgway’s Finn Doherty and Del Norte teammates Kendra Parra and Grace Whitehorn.
Ignacio finished 2-13-0 overall in ’19, while Bayfield ended up 7-8-0.