The 2021 version of the Cañon City Lady Tigers football team plans to continue rolling in the opening round of the CHSAA State Playoffs on Wednesday. In a regular season shortened by COVID, the Lady Tigers set an impressive 9-1-0 record and took home the Colorado Springs Metro South Conference title.
The number 8 seeded Tigers will host the ninth seeded Air Academy Cadets (8-2) from Colorado Springs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Like the Tigers, the Cadets are Conference Champions and come from the Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Conference.
The strength of this year’s team can be seen in the statistics lines with 17 players who contribute a goal or an assist in the regular season. The Tigers’ offense dominated this year, outperforming their opponents 75: 4 and recording six shutouts in the shortened regular season of 10 games.
The offensive attack was led by Senior Kyndal West. West scored an impressive 17 goals in the regular season, averaging 1.7 goals per game in the team leadership.
“Kyndal is the forward in our formation and has scored some really good goals,” said coach Pat Callahan. “A lot of goals, some of them one-on-one breakouts and some great shots from outside the goal area. It was nice to see how she scored in different ways. “
Asked about the team’s success this season, Coach Callahan said that CCHS had 38 girls, a large senior class and a large freshmen class this season, resulting in a great combination of young talent and seasoned players.
“I’m blessed that I don’t have 11 starters, I have probably 14 or 15 starters,” said Callahan. “I have a lot of depth on this team.”
Junior Mady Ley has led the Tigers squad from the bench, scoring nine goals in the regular season.
“She is a gifted athlete,” said Callahan. “She’s one of those (players), you put a ball in front of her, whatever the sport, and she’ll excel. She comes from the bank for us and makes a huge spark when she walks in.
“When she walks in, you can see that things are happening. She is a midfielder and disturbs the teams we are facing. “
As with other CHSAA activities, this year’s state tournament will be shortened with only 16 of the 73 4A girls’ soccer teams punching the tickets for this year’s tournament. In the last few years 32 teams formed the field of the national qualification teams.
Although the season was shortened and the playoffs changed, Callahan said the team was ready to hit the field this season after the entire 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic.
“We started preparing for our opening game and we were called inside (and informed of the cancellation) and that was the last time we’d met in months,” Callahan said. “It was over 700 days between the last high school soccer game and the first game of the year.”
Callahan said that the juniors and seniors in particular “chewed on the bite” to get out and play.
“I think that has contributed a lot to our success this season,” said Callahan. “After missing a season like this, we learned not to take things for granted.”
On Wednesday, the Tigers will try to make up for lost time as they host the Cadets.
“We know it’s going to be a fight, but we think the game with TCA was a really good game to give us a taste of what it will be like on Wednesday,” said Callahan.
The Tigers lagged behind in the competition and dropped back to 4A No. 2 of the Classical Academy with a final score of 2-0 in the season finale.
Second goalkeeper Sydney Rowe was phenomenal in the competition. Rowe posted a season high of six saves in the game against the eternal powerhouse to round out the regular season with 21 saves that allowed only 0.47 goals per game.
Tiger fans are encouraged to support the Lady Tigers in the continuation of this historic season on Wednesday at Citizens’ Stadium.