Thompson Valley ends soccer season for Glenwood Springs
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It all played out in much too familiar a fashion.
Glenwood Springs clung to an early lead, only to see it vanish in the blink of an eye.
Last year, it was Evergreen roaring back from an early deficit to knock off the girls soccer Demons, 4-3, in the opening round of the 4A state playoffs. This year, it was Thompson Valley.
Behind a pair of second-half goals from Emma Howard, the visiting Eagles made the long trip to Glenwood Springs from the Front Range worthwhile with a 2-1 win over the Demons on a cold and rainy Tuesday evening.
Much like the early 2-0 lead it took against Evergreen last spring, Glenwood owned an early edge on Tuesday.
A wild goal by the Demons’ Allie Rippy broke the ice in the 28th minute. The senior lined up a long free kick and fired a shot toward Thompson Valley goalkeeper Meagan Holdeman, who had trouble getting a grip on the ball in the wet conditions. It slipped past her and Glenwood was on the board.
But the Eagles, veterans of many a tight game in Northern League play, roared back.
Just three minutes into the second half, Howard recorded the equalizer, taking a forward pass from teammate Sydney Paulsen and breaking away for an easy goal.
Howard went on to put her team ahead in the 71st minute, using her speed to shake free of the defense and charge into the right flat. She placed a sharp roller just wide of Glenwood keeper Kenzie Kuhn.
“One player beat us,” Demons coach Bryan Stoltzfus lamented afterwards. “She’s amazing.”
Just as Howard kept her team afloat much of the night, so too did Kuhn. The keeper made spectacular save after spectacular save.
Thompson Valley coach Nate Hancock took notice.
“That keeper made some of the sweetest saves,” he said. “I know that’s a hard loss for them and they played really good. … She really stepped it up with some great saves. It helped keep them around.”
While Kuhn was on her game, Glenwood’s offense just couldn’t produce much in the way of scoring chances once the first half came to a close.
“I thought, in the first half, we outplayed them,” Stoltzfus said. “We just couldn’t get it in net. Kenzie kept us in the game with some wonderful saves. We just can’t shut [Howard] down.”
Despite Tuesday’s outcome, Stoltzfus and company can rest their laurels on a milestone season. The Demons finished up with a 14-2 record and won their first 4A Western Slope League title since 2002.
“Oh, this is the best group I’ve played with, by far,” senior midfielder Leah Mansfield said. “We’re not only a team, but we’re best friends off the field. We do everything together. I’m going to miss them.”
Glenwood entered the playoffs seeded 12th in the 32-team 4A bracket. Thompson Valley, now 11-5, is the 21st seed.
Playoff-like games are nothing to new to the Eagles, who’ve had quite the go of it in the regular season. They’ve now been involved in seven one-goal games.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Howard, whose team is now 3-4 in those one-goal contests. “Our wins have been harder and stuff. A lot of our teams [in the Northern League] go on to state. Many of our losses are 1-0 games. Even our wins will be by only one goal.”
“Our conference is just ridiculous,” Hancock said. “Every game is a playoff game. That’s what I tell my team all the time. Other teams, they’ve got to get prepared for the playoffs. We’ve been doing it.”
Thompson Valley will face league mate Fossil Ridge (14-1-1) in the second round on Saturday.
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