There were no hanging heads after East Mountain’s season-ending loss to Santa Fe’s St. Michael’s Horsemen on April 1 at home—despite the zero that remained in the Timberwolves’ win column.

East Mountain fought hard to the final whistle but ultimately came up short as the Horsemen edged the T’Wolves 1-0 on a penalty kick late in the first half.

As the players left the field—some of them for the last time—there were plenty of hugs, handshakes and fist bumps to go around, but no one was dwelling on the 0-9 record that concluded their Covid-delayed spring soccer season.

“It doesn’t matter a whole lot because we played really hard,” senior Naloh Estrada said. “It just sometimes doesn’t work out, and that’s all right cuz we had a lot of fun doing it—it’s not about winning.”

Fellow senior Derek Tarman, the T’Wolves’ goalkeeper, echoed Estrada’s sentiments: “I feel like, as long as we connected as a team and we played our hardest, it doesn’t matter what the score is at the end of the day—I think it was a really nice season.”

The T’Wolves had opportunities to score throughout the match, including a would-be goal that was nullified by a questionable call by the field referee.

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In the 29th minute, East Mountain’s Tizo Chavez took a shot and the referee immediately blew his whistle, stopping the play. The ball went into the Horsemen’s goal, but the ref said it didn’t count.

“We would’ve been up 1-0 at that point,” East Mountain head coach John Larson said, noting that the referee didn’t let the play go through. “And he admitted it, he said, ‘I might’ve taken a goal away from you guys.’”

Ten minutes later, following a collision of players inside the 18-yard box, the refs awarded St. Mike’s a penalty kick that got past Tarman’s outstretched left hand for the only goal of the game.

East Mountain had a chance to score in the 73rd when Chavez got knocked down just outside the 18, giving the T’Wolves a direct free kick, but the shot sailed a couple feet wide.

Tyler Burnette defending against St. Mike’s. April 1, 2021. Photo by Ger Demarest.

“It was a very competitive game, and it was fun to play, just couldn’t quite pull the trigger,” Larson said, adding, “We’re a little disappointed in our win-loss record, but we’re happy that the kids got to have a season. We’re a really young team, a lot of sophomores and freshmen, so we’re really looking forward to the next couple of years—we’re gonna come out swinging in the fall.”

The game marked the second time this season that St. Mike’s—the defending 4A state champs—defeated East Mountain by a one-goal margin. The T’Wolves lost to the Horsemen 2-1 in overtime March 23 in Santa Fe.

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With the season over, the underclassmen, much like the outgoing seniors, said they’re grateful for the opportunity. “Even though we had to wear masks, it was really fun to get out and play as a team,” junior Tyler Burnette said.

“This season, cuz of Covid, it doesn’t really feel like a season at all,” freshman Bodie Larson said. “It’s just good that we got to play, it’s good to get out here, and we’re gonna practice hard all summer and come back ready to play.”