It was a tale of two soccer seasons for the Woodland Park High School girls.
The Panthers found themselves in a deep hole after dropping their first seven matches. They were outscored 50-3 in the process.
But beginning with a 4-2 home victory over Widefield on April 9, Woodland Park went 6-2 down the stretch, pummeling opponents with 46 goals, while allowing 13.
“Some of the changes I made in my formation helped out,” said second-year Woodland Park coach Dan Ganoza. “And the fact that we were snowed in most of the first month didn’t help. At one point, we had more games than outdoor practices.”
Among the most beneficial changes Ganoza made was moving freshman Morgan Berry to center midfielder. She thrived in that position, scoring 13 goals (second on the team behind junior Charlotte Eilertsen’s 15) and nine assists. Berry eventually was the only Panther to make first-team All-Metro League. She was also the only freshman on the first team.
“Morgan is my shining star,” Ganoza said. “She will be good for years to come.”
Unfortunately for Berry and next season’s returners, Eilertsen (second-team all-league) will not be around. Her parents, natives of Norway, have completed their two-year program at Charis Bible College and are returning to Europe soon, along with their daughter.
Another key player who won’t be around next season is senior Gracie Harrison. She was third on the team in goals with 10, while dishing out eight assists. Harrison made Metro League honorable mention along with teammates Elisabeth Blacklock (senior) and Karly Purkey (junior).
“I’m losing seven of my 11 starters,” Ganoza said. “But we have a lot of talented players in the program, and I think we will continue to improve.”
The Panthers will be in the second year of their two-year cycle next year and play the same schedule. Ganoza said that beginning in 2020, the Metro League will be split up into a north and south division and add new teams in Palmer, Sand Creek and Falcon.
Ganoza recently announced that he will not be back as the school’s boys’ assistant coach this fall. He plans on again being the C-squad girls’ basketball coach this winter.
“I had a lot going on, and I had to take something off my plate,” said Ganoza, a science teacher at the school.
In October, Ganoza was selected as the 2018 Colorado Association of Science Teachers Teacher of the Year.