Two second-half goals doom Demons
A long road trip and two second-half goals finished the season for the Glenwood Springs girls soccer team.
The Demons, bidding to reach the elite eight of Class 4A soccer, stunned homestanding St. Mary’s Academy with a goal on their first shot midway through the opening half.
But St. Mary’s, unbeaten on the season, scored twice in the second half and held on for a tense 2-1 victory Friday afternoon in the first round of the soccer state tournament.
St. Mary’s Wildcats, 16-0-0, advance to the state quarterfinals and a Tuesday match against 4A top-seed Mullen, 13-2-1.
The Glenwood Springs girls finished the year 12-3-1, with a Regional win over Longmont Skyline and the best record in recent history, along with a bevy of school records and memorable moments.
“I was so impressed by their heart,” St. Mary’s coach Chad Mott said of the Demons after Friday’s playoff match.
“There was no quit in them at all. They played aggressive and physical soccer – what a match!” Mott said.
His Wildcats actually trailed – for the first time all season – after senior Sarah Cunningham put the Demons ahead in the 17th minute of play.
Taking a midfield ball from junior Cassie Carlson, Cunningham ripped a shot into the left side of the net and the Demons celebrated a 1-0 lead, an advantage they held through halftime.
“We really didn’t make any adjustments at halftime,” the St. Mary’s coach said.
Rather, he said, he told his team to keep putting pressure on the Demon defense. With a healthy advantage in shots-on-goal in the first half (10-3), Mott told his Cats to keep shooting in the second 40 minutes of play.
And they did.
Barely 1:40 into the second half, all-stater Lena Winkler scored for St. Mary’s on a rebound shot to tie the match 1-1.
Relying on their trapping defense to frustrate the Demons, St. Mary’s continued to attack.
The Wildcats’ traffic in front of the Demon net resembled the Friday afternoon jam on South University Boulevard, where the private all-girls high school is located in Englewood.
With just over 27 minutes to play, sophomore Kelly Burke put St. Mary’s ahead with a goal into the right side of the Demon net.
Senior Lauren Martinez provided the through ball that Burke converted for the 2-1 lead.
The Demons and Cats each offered three more shots on goal and all were turned away in the St. Mary’s victory.
“They’ve got some offense, that’s for sure,” Glenwood Springs coach Steve White said of the Wildcats. “Their transition was really good today,” he said.
White added that the St. Mary’s trap gave the Demons problems and limited their ability to generate quality shots on goal. Unofficially, St. Mary’s outshot Glenwood Springs 20-6.
“But I’m really proud of these girls. They played well all season. We had great effort all year … and they set a bunch of school records.”
Though disappointed with the playoff loss, White said he was far from disappointed in his team.
“It has been a wonderful season,” he added. “Just a great year.”
The one goal scored by the Demons was only the third goal allowed all season by undefeated St. Mary’s and junior goalkeeper Liz Schnaitter.
“This is really an experienced team,” St. Mary’s coach Mott said. “We’ve got eight seniors who have played together for four years.”
Four of those seniors are headed for college soccer opportunities, including Winkler, who will play at American University in Washington, D.C.
Martinez, who assisted on the game-winning goal, will play at Adams State College in Alamosa next year.
The playoff match was the final one for Glenwood Springs seniors Cunnigham, Heather Hert, Brieanne Rippy, Rebecca Lundin and Kelci Barnes.
Demon juniors and sophomores who challenged the big, physical team from St. Mary’s included Carlson, Ella McReynolds, Ashley Jentzsch, Heidi Wild, Amy Ackerman, Brittney Rippy, Chelsea Strautman, Shannon Smiley and Michelle McReynolds.
They took on a team from St. Mary’s Academy that represents the oldest school in Colorado.
The academy was founded in 1859 by nuns who traveled west in covered wagons. From its first spot in downtown Denver, St. Mary’s is now at its third location, adjacent to the exclusive Cherry Hills neighborhood of Denver (reportedly one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.).
With a coed elementary school and a coed middle school, St. Mary’s remains an all-girls high school – the only one in Colorado.
Next year, St. Mary’s will drop down to Class 3A as a member of the new 3A Metro League.
“Now we get to play Mullen,” Mott said, while continuing to commend the play of the Demons.
“Glenwood Springs is as good as any of the top teams in the state. They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Mott said.
“They should go home feeling good. That is a very good team.”
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.