Glenwood Springs Demons hold on late for second-round win over Bulldogs
Three first-half goals Saturday morning was just enough for the No. 6 Glenwood Springs Demons’ girls soccer team to hold on late for a 3-2 win over the visiting No. 11 Pueblo Centennial Bulldogs at Stubler Memorial Field in the second round of the 4A Colorado High School Activities Association’s state playoffs.
The Demons had to hold on late in the second half, as the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 3-2 with just under five minutes to go, but some stellar defense from senior Devan McSwain, junior Julia Mulhall and sophomore Celia Scruton along the back line, and junior goalkeeper Hannah Juul in net, helped the Demons slow down the frantic final minutes, giving Glenwood the win.
“We got away from our game in the second half, and we just got tight,” Glenwood Head Coach Joe Calabrese said. “I think the weight of this game kind of started to sink in during the second half for us, but we fought through it, and that’s all that matters.”
Facing off with the team that knocked them out of the 4A state playoffs last spring, the Demons came out with vengeance on their minds. However, Glenwood — which hasn’t lost a game at home all season — came out slow, playing a relaxed style of soccer that saw them a step slow to loose balls and late to react offensively with passes.
Fortunately for Glenwood, sophomore Natalya Taylor had a spark to her game early, taking a pass from senior Eryn Peterson and fighting through a confrontation near the top of the attacking box, before then slipping in behind the Pueblo Centennial defense for the first scoring chance of the game. Taylor misfired on the chance, though, pushing her left-footed shot wide right.
Pueblo Centennial found its footing offensively following Taylor’s run, as the Bulldogs pushed into the attacking half of the field against Glenwood, but Juul stood tall in net, making a save on freshman Lainee Vujcich near the far post to keep the game scoreless.
The Demons struck first just under eight minutes into the game, as McSwain lined up a free kick from 40 yards out with the wind to her back. Playing the wind factor perfectly, McSwain uncorked a beautiful strike on net from 40 yards out, placing the shot just under the crossbar in the upper left corner of the net to give the Demons a 1-0 lead. McSwain’s free kick goal was her third straight game with a goal off of a free kick.
“I heard my Dad yell from the box ‘know the wind,’ so I knew I had to put it in, since it was early and would set the tone,” McSwain said of her free-kick goal following the win. “Off my foot, it felt good. Just getting it on goal was amazing. That was the spark that got us going.”
Holding a 1-0 lead at home, the Demons picked up the pace against the Bulldogs, applying a ton of pressure on junior goalkeeper Jillian Kelly.
Peterson nearly capped off a great counter by the Demons, firing a left-footed shot just over the crossbar as the Demons looked to seize control. With momentum in their favor, and possession leaning heavily towards the Demons, Glenwood took a 2-0 lead with just under nine minutes to go in the half, thanks to freshman Tatum Lilly.
Freshman Reese Goluba found Peterson with a perfectly-placed throw-in, leading to Peterson heading the ball into the box where Lilly settled the ball down just five yards away from the keeper, firing a shot into the upper right corner of the goal and giving Glenwood a 2-0 lead.
Just six minutes later, Glenwood made it 3-0, as Goluba again found Peterson on a throw-in. Peterson was able to work the ball free from two Pueblo Centennial defenders before slipping a shot past Kelly in net, sending the Demons into the half with a 3-0 lead.
“These girls were just ready to come out and beat Pueblo today,” McSwain said. “We were determined coming out today to not let what happened last year happen again to this team. It felt really good to go into the half with a 3-0 lead, because it was almost like a ton of weight was taken off of our shoulders.”
That 3-0 lead might have been a bit detrimental to the Demons, though, as the Bulldogs came out in the second half playing with a purpose, scoring a goal just 20 seconds into the second half.
Junior Ivory Martinez capped off a cross into the box by junior Kinsley Carter, redirecting the pass into the far left corner of the net past a sliding Juul, making it a 3-1 game and putting the Demons on their heels early in the second half.
“Pueblo changed things up a little bit [at the half], but it wasn’t anything drastic enough to have a team come out and score like that,” Calabrese said. “It was a slow start; we were definitely relaxed. Once we scored that third goal in the first half, our girls seemed to settle in.”
With the Bulldogs on the board early in the second half, Glenwood attempted to get a three-goal lead back, as Peterson took a cross into the box from Taylor, but Kelly made a diving stop near the right post, keeping it a two-goal game.
Carter then had a great scoring chance for the Bulldogs midway through the second half, taking a feed from freshman Allie Jones and firing high over the crossbar on a clean look on net, allowing the Demons to dodge a bullet. Carter wasn’t done, though, beating the Glenwood back line to a loose ball and breaking in alone on Juul, but the Pueblo Centennial junior fired wide right, missing the target once again and keeping it at a two-goal lead for Glenwood.
Late in the game, the Bulldogs caught a break, as the officials missed a clear handball in the box on senior Skylar Sardello. Sardello settled the ball in the box, largely thanks to the uncalled handball, and slipped a pass to senior Tori Mitrick, who fired a shot past Juul with just under four minutes to go in the game, making it a 3-2 game.
Nursing a one-goal lead with roughly four minutes and stoppage time remaining, McSwain huddled the team up in the Glenwood end of the field during an injury stoppage, regrouping the Demons.
“I was kind of frantic there, as were all the girls,” McSwain said. “I told them that we needed to have game management in that situation, and slow the game down. We needed to have more players drop back to help the defense to put the game away.”
Despite getting a warning from the officials to pick up the pace late, Glenwood milked the clock away, as Scruton took the ball away from Vujcich on the right sideline and promptly carried possession for another 20 seconds before the official’s whistle pierced the air, signaling the end of the game and sending Glenwood to the quarterfinals of 4A state playoffs.
The Demons will travel to Broomfield on Wednesday for the quarterfinal matchup against the No. 3 Holy Family Tigers, who defeated the No. 13 Green Mountain Rams on Saturday evening following a lightning delay.