Glenwood girls back in playoffs for first time since ‘12 |

Glenwood girls back in playoffs for first time since ‘12

Glenwood Springs senior Mae Lang Burns battles for the ball with a Summit defender during a recent home game at Stubler Memorial Field in Glenwood. The Demon girl's soccer team is headed to the state playoffs for the first time in five seasons. (REBECCA MILAM)
Rebecca Milam |

For the first time since the 2012 season, the Glenwood girl’s soccer team is back in the 4A state playoffs.

The Demons, who finished 11-4, 9-3 4A Western Slope League on the year — good for second in the league — currently sit No. 17 in the Colorado High School Association’s Ratings Percentage Index, securing a berth in the state playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

Not bad for a group with just four seniors in Nina Scruton, Bailey Cox, Mae Lang Burns and Carly Shimp.

“I really think the playoff berth shows our team effort this year,” Scruton said. “I think this shows a lot about our commitment and how we were all able to pull ourselves together and out of the dirt, because this is largely the same group of girls from last season.”

The 2016 season wasn’t too kind to the Demon girls as the young group finished 6-8, 5-7 4A WSL on the year, but there were flashes last season of what the 2017 team could be under second-year head coach Joe Calabrese. Fortunately for Glenwood, the girls put it all together this season under Calabrese and assistants Elliott Smith, Evan Segal and Garrett Peters, reeling off six straight wins to close the season on a high note.

“A lot of the success this season was that we built a lot on what we focused on last year as a team,” Calabrese said. “We had a lot of young players come in last year, and fortunately they stayed this year. Building off of that younger group and then having some key older players that were dedicated to the program really helped us come together this year and wanting to get better, wanting to progress. Coming into a group like this as a young coach, they wanted to be there [in the playoffs], so it was my piece to help get them there. I’m just trying to help these girls reach their goals. They’re exceptional players. But it’s been their want and desire that’s gotten this group to this point.”

Following an up-and-down 2016 season, Glenwood got off to a slow start this spring. After a 6-0 loss to Battle Mountain at home, Glenwood sat at 2-3 on the year. But from there the group came together and started firing on all cylinders, going on win streaks of three and six games to reach the final record of 11-4.

“The team dynamic in general helped this season,” Scruton said. “All of these girls want to be here and want to do it for the rest of the team, so a lot of it is about commitment. We have great respect for each other and a lot more leadership has helped us come together and play as one unit. This run puts an exclamation point on this team in general. Over the last few years we’ve been a bit undermined here at the school, but with the success we’ve had we’re starting to see a lot more support.”

Junior midfielder Devan McSwain echoed Scruton’s thoughts.

“Off the field this group is great because they’re all hilarious, but on the field it’s great because everyone works hard and works for each other,” McSwain said. “We hold each other very accountable. It’s a very critical, yet positive, environment. It was definitely a positive environment before Joe took over, but everything has just gotten better. We’re playing so much more as a team under Joe. We kind of noticed that change early this season, so it’s been very refreshing.”

The impressive thing about this current group of fast, smart, tough girls is the fact that they’re so young, yet handle adversity so well. Last season, Glenwood dropped some games late that they shouldn’t have lost. This year was a different story, though, as the girls had experience in close games and were able to finish off games this season in tight situations.

A lot of that has to do with the key senior leadership. Over the last four years, the four seniors have experienced the ups and downs, not knowing what a winning season was like at the varsity level, but in some ways that helped harden their leadership abilities for one final push this spring.

To say it’s been rewarding for the group of seniors is an understatement.

“It’s really exciting for me to take part in leading this team to a playoff berth, as it is for the rest of the seniors,” forward Bailey Cox said. “We have a really young team, so to be able to take hold of this group and be a leader was really exciting for me. It was a goal to make the playoffs this year because we have the speed and talent, so it’s been very rewarding to have a season like this. I haven’t had a chance to step back and think about this season, but we’re not done yet.”

The Demons will have to wait until Sunday afternoon to learn their playoff fate when CHSAA releases the official 4A state playoff soccer bracket.

“It’s exciting for me to bring this group into the playoffs,” Calabrese said. “We talked after the Palisade game [an April 13 double OT loss] that the game was a playoff atmosphere. The girls left everything on the field. It was a battle, so that feeling of being in one of those bigger games is something that we’re looking forward to getting back to. The girls have definitely earned this opportunity.”

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