Title belts, trophies and fun for Monterey girls soccer in playoff-opening victory

PLAINVIEW — It was once again Makayla Coronado's time with the title.

When Jarod Loffler took over as head coach of the Monterey girls soccer program, he noticed a lack of tradition for what has been a pretty successful program. Playoff trophies were collecting dust in the bottom of a closet. There was nothing to signify a team that's made winning a habit.

Loffler has set out to change that. Successes to be celebrated, performances to be rewarded. That includes the addition of a championship belt.

Each week, a member of the team is awarded the Lady Plainsmen of the Week title. Silver plates adorn the black leather strap. Side plates see "1%" and the silhouette of a goat on either side.

The plan is to line the walls of the locker room with photos of each championship holder. Coronado's picture will be featured prominently, with another one to be added after her display on Friday.

Battling a field with smaller-than-normal dimensions and the West Texas wind soccer players know all too well, the Lady Plainsmen weren't able to capitalize on a slew of scoring opportunities. Their first goal came by accident, but Coronado booted the two that mattered in a 3-1 Class 5A bi-district victory over Tascosa inside Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium.

Monterey's Makayla Coronado (in red) slips a goal by the Tascosa defense in a Class 5A bi-district girls soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.
Monterey's Makayla Coronado (in red) slips a goal by the Tascosa defense in a Class 5A bi-district girls soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.

While the team gets to share in the gold-ball trophy that will, Loffler says, be treated properly, Coronado got the individual belt for the game.

"It was kind of frustrating," Coronado said. "... but we still got it done. That's all we want."

Tascosa (7-10-4 overall) was the first to put Monterey on the board. Elizabeth Watson attempted to clear the ball and thwart a Lady Plainsmen (18-5-1) scoring opportunity. Due to the angle of the kick, and a little help from the wind, the ball wound up going over the head of the goalie and into the net.

Coronado took over from there, only on purpose. Her first came in the 37th minute on a header in front of the net. She got a bit banged up on the play, but it wouldn't slow her down.

Trinity Chambers responded less than two minutes later with a header of her own for Tascosa to make it 2-1 in favor of Monterey at the break.

Five minutes into the second half, Coronado once again found her way to scoring position. Off a corner kick, Tascosa keeper Victoria Mireles stopped the first shot, but the ball trickled under her and toward Coronado. The Monterey sophomore had just enough of an angle to get it by a pair of Tascosa players for another goal.

Serving as Monterey's leading scorer — though the team has plenty of those options — Loffler has come to expect performances like Friday's from Coronado.

"She steps up big time," the Lady Plainsmen head coach said. "Nothing's too big for her. She wants to win more than anybody. She's a great kid. She does all the little things that coaches really appreciate."

Monterey celebrates its 3-1 win over Tascosa in a Class 5A bi-district girls soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.
Monterey celebrates its 3-1 win over Tascosa in a Class 5A bi-district girls soccer playoff game on Friday, March 24, 2023 at Bulldog Stadium in Plainview.

Loffler said Coronado acts as a mentor to the younger players on the roster, something not always seen from underclassmen. But she's also part of the new look of the program the coach is trying to establish, one that celebrates the highs.

That's why Loffler, who sports a distinguished-looking grey beard, was willing to let his players douse his chin with some red temporary hair coloring. It's something he's never done, but in the high-pressure world of high school sports, Loffler is trying to make sure the he and the team remember to have fun when they can.

"That's what it's all about is having fun," Loffler said. "Of course we want to compete and win games, but ultimately, we want to have fun and learn something from it. I guess that's the biggest thing I take away is we can battle adversity — things happen — and pull out the wind no matter what happens.

".... We got to have fun. Otherwise, why are we here?"

The Lady Plainsmen will take on El Paso Del Valle in the area round of the playoffs at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Title belts, trophies and fun for Monterey girls soccer in playoff-opening victory