Grand Valley High School Cardinals girls soccer makes its mark
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
PARACHUTE — Grand Valley High School’s girls soccer team showed this past weekend another example of how far it has come in the past three years.
The Cardinals’ season ended with a 4-0 loss to rival Coal Ridge in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs, marking the second time in as many years Grand Valley was eliminated in the 32-team tournament’s round of 16. Still, Grand Valley feels that its still getting better, even though the Cardinals finished the season in the same place they finished the 2013 season.
“We scored a goal in every game coming into this game,” first-year Grand Valley coach Scott Gregory said. “And we were in every game. We had two losses coming into [Saturday’s game], but it just as easily could have been no losses.”
Not that Grand Valley hasn’t won a lot of games in the past three years, anyway. Including this past weekend, Grand Valley has compiled a 36-12-1 overall record over the past three seasons, including a 27-6-1 mark in the past two years. This year’s final record of 14-3-0 set a school record for most victories in a season, as was the Cardinals’ 13-game winning streak, prior to their second-round loss to Coal Ridge.
It was good enough to help Grand Valley reach the postseason for the second consecutive season and showed a cumulative turnaround of a program that was nearly dead on arrival for every game it played four years ago. Each of the seniors on the Cardinals’ roster this year were freshmen when the team had yet to finish a season with a winning record in the program’s short history.
It’s safe to say that some of those seniors have left their mark on the program.
The most notable – even though she won’t admit it herself – is Ashlynn Speakman. The 5-3 striker ended the season with 33 goals and 12 assists and, when the season ended, led all Colorado high school soccer players in goals scored. Including her scoring during her junior and sophomore seasons, Speakman finished her prep career with 71 goals, easily making her the program’s all-time leading goal-scorer.
Early last week, Speakman signed a letter of intent to play soccer for Fort Lewis College, an NCAA Division II school in Durango, in the fall. She’ll join Jenna Brown of Glenwood Springs, who signed to play at Fort Lewis in April and who Speakman played club soccer with this past summer.
Speakman isn’t the only player on the Cardinals’ roster who had the ability to finish, however. Junior Kyra Chenoweth added offensive balance for Grand Valley with her 19 goals and 18 assists, and the 18 goals and 12 assists senior Lauren Paskett finished with was also huge. So was Randi Sheridan, a senior who had seven goals and 15 assists.
Also big was senior goalkeeper Erin Schuckers, who had eight shutouts, and, including Saturday’s game, only allowed 15 goals all season. Almost half of them – seven – were scored by Coal Ridge in Grand Valley’s two games against the Titans this year.
“We’ve been through so much as a team,” Paskett said after Saturday’s loss. “It was nice for us to be able to finish together.”
The Cardinals will lose nine seniors to graduation this year. Gregory already had a plan in place to continue the program’s success down the road, involving players from area youth soccer programs so they could aspire to be part of the successful girls soccer program Grand Valley has built.
Still, there’s one goal Grand Valley will carry over into next season, aside from reaching the postseason.
“I kind of wish that we could have gotten a win for them in this field,” said Gregory, whose team beat Front Range Christian, 3-1, the day before its game against Coal Ridge. “I mean, we got one on this field yesterday, but it would have been nice to give them a win against Coal Ridge. We’ll keep after that, though.”
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.