Glenwood wins battle of the Demons
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It was a cold, wet, windy, sloppy and all-around miserable afternoon.
But Wednesday’s performance by the Glenwood Springs girls soccer team was like pure sunshine.
Glenwood handled the slippery and rainy conditions, and notched a pair of first-half goals en route to a 2-0 victory over the feisty Durango Demons in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
The playoff win was the first for Glenwood since at least 2001, making it very special for a drenched, shivering and emotional coach Steve White.
“It’s been a long time,” White said, smiling. “I told the girls that I’ve had tears in my eyes after playoff losses before, but I can’t remember ever having tears in my eyes after a playoff win.
“When that final whistle blew, the tears started welling up,” said the veteran coach, who returned as head coach this year. Last week, White picked up his milestone 200th career high school coaching victory.
Wednesday’s game provided devoted fans with a double dose of Demons during a dreary deluge of nasty weather.
As expected, the game was a battle for midfield supremacy through the early stages, as both teams adjusted to the sloppy conditions.
White said the team’s strategy changed slightly to combat the conditions.
“We wanted to hold possession of the ball and dribble more. A slick ball is hard to recover and we wanted to be careful with our longer passes,” he said.
The patient ball-possession strategy finally paid off for the Glenwood Demons, which broke through in the nearly icy conditions at the 29-minute mark.
Sarah Davis fired a high arching shot from about 20 yards out that created a problem for Durango goalkeeper Jessica Thulson. The shot dropped over her outstretched arms and into the right corner of the net to give Glenwood a 1-0 lead. Davis had battled a Durango defender, winning the ball before launching her perfectly placed shot.
From the 26-minute mark on in the first half, the Glenwood Demons provided the heat on the chilly afternoon.
Senior Michaela Mansfield made it 2-0 on a brilliant goal around the 25 minute mark.
The speedy forward may have had cold feet because of the weather, but they weren’t the nervous kind when it came to her goal.
Corey Gera sent a nice pass to Mansfield in the box, who then drilled a laser shot that Thulson barely deflected with her right hand, but the ball caromed off the crossbar and dropped back into the box. Mansfield calmly settled the ball and popped her shot into the open net as Thulson looked on helplessly from the soggy turf of Stubler Memorial Field.
“I just told myself to not hit it hard. I just needed to tap it in,” Mansfield said.
The Glenwood Demons could have turned the first half into more of a drubbing, but two shots narrowly missed their marks.
Holly Brown’s penalty kick was stopped by a nice save by Thulson, then, shortly before the first half whistle, it was iron that kept the score at 2-0. Mansfield took a long pass from Davis, but the shot slammed off the left post.
Glenwood dominated the first part of the second half and looked to have demoralized the Durango Demons. Glenwood goalkeeper Dani Turley had a rather stress-free afternoon through most of the game. But for a nearly 15-minute period midway through the second half, Durango applied massive amounts of frantic pressure of Glenwood.
Marlene Conner had several chances in the box for Durango, then at the 60-minute mark, Glenwood almost saw its shutout vanish.
A Durango shot sent Turley to the ground for a sprawling save, then senior Kenzie Kuhn cleared the ball out of the box.
Defensively, Kuhn, Erika Stripp and Jackie Knott harassed Durango players and limited their offensive chances.
Glenwood’s best chance for a second-half came at the 73-minute mark, when Mansfield drilled another missile from just outside the box, but Thulson made the save.
Mansfield said the conditions were difficult but her warm smile told a satisfying story after the game.
“It’s been a long time since we won a playoff game, so this is very satisfying,” she said.
“I’m really proud of the girls and how they played and how they handled the conditions today,” White added.
Glenwood is now 15-1 on the season and will play at Palmer Ridge in the second round on Saturday.
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