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GS girls challenge St. Mary’s Academy

Dale Strode

Challenge is the name of the game for the Glenwood Springs girls.

Actually, soccer is the name of the game.

But the challenge, certainly, is there for the Demons – the most prolific offensive team in the history of Glenwood Springs High School soccer.

The Glenwood Springs girls, 12-2-1 on the season, will head to Denver Friday for the challenge of the first round of the State Soccer Tournament.

The Demons will play at St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood at 4 p.m. Friday for an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals of the 4A state tourney.

“They’re going to be a challenge,” Glenwood Springs coach Steve White said of the St. Mary’s Wildcats – 15-0-0 on the season.

“I think their shutout record is what concerns me. Defensively, they will be a real challenge,” added White, whose Demons advanced to the state field with a big 6-1 Regional win over Longmont Skyline last weekend in Glenwood Springs.

St. Mary’s Academy (as opposed to St. Mary’s High School of Colorado Springs, a Class 3A school) reached the state tourney with a 5-0 shutout of Widefield in the Regionals last weekend. The shutout was the 12th of the season for the defensive-minded Wildcats.

“We have to be very offensive-minded,” White said of his Demons, who have scored more goals than any other Demon team – girls or boys.

“We want to push the offensive end of the field. And we’d like to get early goals to take the defensive pressure off,” he added.

The Demons will counter the Wildcats defense and goalkeeper Liz Schnaitter (a junior) with a multiple-strike offense that has seen goals scored by 15 different players.

Junior Chelsea Strautman leads the Demons in goals with 22 (in 15 games), along with 12 assists.

Fellow junior Cassie Carlson has 14 goals and seven assists.

Senior Brieanne Rippy has eight goals and five assists for the Demons. And Sarah Cunningham, with four goals, also has 11 assists for the Western Slope League-champion Demons.

Seniors Becca Lundin and Ashley Holtum added seven goals each thus far this year.

But besides the Wildcats, the Demons also are facing other challenges in the state soccer playoff Friday.

Two varsity regulars, Abby Willman and Holtum, will miss Friday’s game to participate in the National Mock Trial Competition.

A third Demon, starting goalkeeper Keegan Nadon, also will miss the match against St. Mary’s Academy. Following an altercation with another student in school, Nadon was suspended early this week and will miss Friday’s match.

“We’ve thrown our confidence behind Kelci Barnes and we know she can step in and do a good job,” White said of the Demon goalkeeping situation.

Barnes has worked with the team all season and has competed at a high level in other sports, like swimming, and she should step right in, according to White.

“Keegan was great for the team … with her play and her spirit,” White added. “But we know Kelci is ready.”

Defensively, the Demons will face a Wildcat team that had three primary scorers this year – seniors Katie Ferraro and Lauren Martinez and sophomore Kelly Burke.

Ferraro leads the team with 17 goals and 11 assists. Martinez scored 13 goals this year.

Sophomore Burke scored 16 goals for St. Mary’s Academy, a private, all-girls school on South University in Englewood.

“We’re being tested a little with the seeding and the suspension,” White said. “But we’re excited about the challenge.”

White’s Demons were seeded No. 9 in the 16-team State Tournament bracket for Class 4A. Unbeaten St. Mary’s Academy was seeded No. 8.

The winner of Friday’s match will play the winner of the Mullen vs. Conifer first-round match.

Mullen, at 12-2-1 (just like Glenwood Springs), is the No. 1 seed in the 4A field.

As part of their final preparations for the Friday afternoon match, the Glenwood Springs girls traveled to Basalt Thursday afternoon to watch the Longhorns open the 3A playoffs against Ridgway.

“We want to show them our support,” White said of the Demons cheering on the Longhorns.

“And we want to get fired up for our match.”


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