Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman previews the girls soccer quarterfinals in the Class 5A and Class 4A brackets. All games are Wednesday:
No. 11 Legacy (15-2) at No. 3 Mountain Vista (14-2-1), 1 p.m. Shea Stadium: Senior striker Katie Joella’s 14 goals pace a Mountain Vista side that’s hungry to get back to the championship match after a runner-up finish last season, while Legacy junior striker Gracie Armstrong’s 25 goals and 15 assists means Golden Eagles coach Theresa Echtermeyer is surely drawing up a game plan to limit the Lightning star.
No. 20 Cherokee Trail (9-6-2) at No. 12 Arapahoe (13-4), 4:30 p.m., Littleton Public Schools Stadium: Cherokee Trail dropped four of five matches during the middle of the season but saved its best play for the tournament, and strikers Rebekah Burton and Delaney McLelland take on a familiar Centennial League foe that has a young but athletic keeper in sophomore Grace Cadorette.
No. 7 Regis Jesuit (12-2-3) at No. 2 Grandview (13-3-1), 5 p.m., Stutler Bowl: Two-time defending state champion Grandview fell 1-0 to the Raiders in the season opener March 13, and defense again will be key between two well-coached sides that know how to keep possession and limit the opposition’s offensive chances.
No. 16 Fairview (13-4) at No. 6 Broomfield (14-2-1), 6 p.m., Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium: Fairview is coming off the most stunning upset of the tournament so far with its second-round toppling of No. 1 Cherry Creek in a 5-4 shootout, while coach Jim Davidson and Broomfield look for a repeat of a 2-0 victory over the Knights in Front Range League action April 18.
No. 5 The Classical Academy (15-1) at No. 4 D’Evelyn (13-3-1), 5 p.m. Lakewood Memorial Field: Coach Blake Galvin and The Classical Academy’s lone loss this season was to No. 1 Valor Christian, as the Titans’ balanced offense with four scorers with a dozen goals or more goes against a Jeffco League-tested D’Evelyn side headlined by sophomore striker Laryssa Hamblen.
No. 6 Windsor (16-1) at No. 3 Lewis-Palmer (15-2), 5 p.m., Don Breese Stadium: The force from up north meets the powerhouse from down south as sophomore striker Abby Gearhart and Windsor travel to face senior striker Brianna Alger and defending champion Lewis-Palmer.
No. 8 Mullen (12-5) at No. 1 Valor Christian (15-1), 7 p.m., Valor Stadium: The upstart Mustangs played a tough Centennial League schedule and feature junior Kaitlyn Harry in net, while last year’s runner-up, Valor Christian, cruised to its first Jeffco League title in program history and did not lose to a 4A team all season.
No. 7 Evergreen (11-6) at No. 2 Wheat Ridge (15-2), 7 p.m., Lakewood Memorial Field: Senior captain Sofia Weiner will need to find the net and provide crucial leadership in order to lead Evergreen to a victory over coach Dan Watkins and a deep Wheat Ridge team that defeated the Cougars 2-1 on April 13 in Jeffco League play. [...]
George Washington’s basketball players inked their official college commitments on Monday morning, a spring signing class whose opportunities to play at the next level are indicative of the continued resurgence of the boys and girls hoops programs.
On the boys side, guards Jervay Greeen and Shaheem Speer are both headed to Western Nebraska Community College (Scottsbluff, Neb.), while guard Calvin Fugett is headed to play at Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyo.
The Patriots were the 2017 Class 5A runner-up, losing the Eaglecrest in the title game. They turned in one of the best seasons in recent memory for George Washington with a 25-3 record and Denver Prep League championship.
Green led George Washington with 19.7 points per game in addition to averaging over three steals. Fugett ran the point and put up 14.9 points in addition to a team-leading 5.9 assists, while Speer provided the team with defensive intensity and an often-overlooked offensive threat.
On the girls side, guards Davenport Brantley (Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri) and Mekhi Peoples (Dawson Community College, Glendive, Mont.) officially signed Monday after leading the Lady Patriots to a 20-4 record and Class 4A Sweet 16 appearance.
Brantley led George Washington with 16.1 points per game, while Peoples averaged 8.9 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Senior swimmer Jordan Oss (College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio) also signed on Monday. [...]
At the CHSAA track and field state meet this Thursday through Saturday at Jeffco Stadium, two teams will be at the forefront of the race for the Class 5A boys team championship.
But the favorites — Fountain-Fort Carson and Monarch — are nothing alike.
The two schools are more than 100 miles apart in actual distance — as well as in comparative analysis — for with strengths as contradictory as their histories, they’ll hardly compete head-to-head for crucial points in the final heats, throws and jumps of the weekend.
Fountain-Fort Carson is ranked third in state history with 17 total boys track championships, and the Trojans are the favorites once again this spring with an array of elite sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers.
“We’re going to have to make the fewest mistakes possible to make sure we get into the finals in the events we’re supposed to,” Fountain-Fort Carson coach Ben Montoya said. “And because we’re completely different from Monarch, we have to capitalize on a lot of the sprinting events where we tend to dominate.”
Meanwhile, Monarch, a front runner to outmaneuver the Trojans, is pressing for the program’s first state title thanks to a litany of talented throwers, vaulters and runners heavy on slow-twitch muscle fibers.
“We’re deep on the distance side — we should qualify four in the 800, four in the 1600, and three or four in the 3200, and we also have the state’s best time in 4×800 relay,” Monarch coach Kent Rieder said. “But we have to perform at our very best to have a shot, and other teams have to perform well, too, in order to take points away from Fountain-Fort Carson.”
Those other top teams — such as defending champion Pomona, plus Cherokee Trail, Denver East and Mountain Vista — will play a critical role in providing the competition for the two top competitors.
It’ll be Fountain-Fort Carson speed-demons Donovan Williams, Jalen Lyon and Jason Farrell opposite of Monarch harriers Isaac Green, Charlie Perry, Zach Litoff and Will Dixon. It’ll be the Trojans’ Jequan Hogan (high jump, triple jump, long jump, high hurdles) serving as the antithesis to the Coyotes’ Nico Heineke Magri in shot put and Max Manson and Cole Rowan on pole vault.
In that way, the two front runners are battling something greater than each other. They’re facing the challenge of achieving their own potential, which is sky-high for both teams as they’re on separate collision courses toward the top of the Sunday scoreboard.
And if each team’s top athlete is any indication of how the overall team race will go, fans could be in for a championship duel that comes down to the wire.
Williams has the state’s best times in the 100- (10.61) and 200-meter (21.51) as he seeks his first individual titles, while University of Washington-bound Green, who won the 1600 championship as a sophomore, is primed to add to his legacy with the state’s best times in the 800 (1:53.97) and 1600 (4:16.37).
May the best track team win. [...]
In this week’s edition of the Post Preps Podcast, Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman travels to S. 8th Avenue to talk to Brighton baseball coach Ray Garza.
Topics include the Bulldogs’ postseason prospects, senior star Liam Eddy and more key contributors, other top Class 5A teams to watch for during Saturday’s district tournaments and more. [...]
The state’s two most storied programs added to their already-packed trophy cases Saturday in the large-school classifications at the 2017 CHSAA girls tennis state tournament, as Cherry Creek captured the Class 5A title while Cheyenne Mountain won the 4A crown.
It’s the 34th overall title for the Bruins, who played their way back to the top at Gates Tennis Center after having their 19-year championship streak snapped by Fairview last season. Meanwhile, the Indians won their ninth straight title and 22nd overall in another dominant performance from Pueblo.
And in the inaugural Class 3A state tournament in Greeley, D’Evelyn captured the program’s first state championship by edging Dawson and Colorado Academy, both of which finished tied for second. No. 4 doubles tandem Charity Perks and Keri Jennings sealed the win with their three-set win in the final match of the tournament.
In singles play, Poudre junior Ky Ecton — last season’s runner-up — won at No. 1 in 5A with a 7-6 (13-11), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Smoky Hill’s Anshika Singh.
Kent Denver’s Josie Schaffer dominated her bracket to win the 4A No. 1 title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Mavis Edwards in the final. And at No. 1 in 3A, Colorado Academy freshman Sammy Moore-Thomson cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Steamboat Spring’s Mae Thorp.
And in doubles play, Mountain Vista’s Ashlen Grote and Amanda Pruitt won 5A No. 1s, Cheyenne Mountain’s Casey Ahrendsen and Ally Arenson won 4A No. 1s, and Eaton’s Courtney Leafgren and Shelby Naill won 3A No. 1s. [...]
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas state lawmakers are considering a bill that could disqualify transgender athletes if their hormone therapy endangers opponents.
The move comes less than three months after transgender wrestler Mack Beggs won a Texas girls’ state championship. Critics said his steroid therapy treatment gave him an unfair advantage against girls who risked injury to wrestle him.
Beggs wants to wrestle next year, when he will be a senior.
Under NCAA rules, athletes transitioning from female to male are allowed to compete on men’s teams while taking testosterone, but can’t compete on women’s teams. Beggs wanted to wrestle against boys, but was barred from doing so because Texas requires athletes to compete against the gender listed on their birth certificates.
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Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman caught up with Highlands Ranch baseball coach Joe Gleason to discuss the Falcons’ chances in the Class 5A District 8 tournament, the team’s aces and more.
Q: With a three-game losing streak to end the regular season, how’s the team’s confidence heading into the district opener against Eaglecrest?
A: I think it’s pretty widely agreed upon how good the Continental League has been this year, and all season we’ve faced good arms and good lineups across the board. There really wasn’t a break for us, so mentally we’re in a good place because we know we’ve played the best the state has to offer. It would’ve been nice to get one or two of those last three games, but it hasn’t lowered our confidence. To be back in the playoffs after a hiatus last year — and to have a shot at making the state tournament — is all you can ask for.
Q: What’s the mindset of your team in the lose-and-go-home district round?
A: This is my tenth year at Highlands Ranch, and looking back at all our different experiences in the playoffs, it comes down to one pitch at a time. It’ll be a similar atmosphere to when we played Rock Canyon in the league finale last week, because with every pitch, your heart is just pumping. Eaglecrest, Dakota Ridge and Mountain Range all have arms, and we have arms, and I always tell the kids that it’s usually not the three or four hole hitter who comes up with the big hit. It’s the nine hole, the eight hole — you never know who it’s going to be.
Q: Juniors Matt Blackwood (3-1, 4.13 ERA) and Josh Thompson (5-2, 4.36) have clearly been big for you — how does their playoff potential affect your team’s outlook, and who’s starting game one on Saturday?
A: They’re absolutely our one-two punch, because when those two guys are on the mound, we’re a very confident baseball team. Sean Arnold has also done an excellent job for us as well in terms of being that crafty lefty, and we’ll have another guy ready to go with Payton McFadden. No matter who is pitching, we need to play good defense behind him. We haven’t actually decided yet if Blackwood or Thompson is starting game one — as a staff, we’re still evaluating the matchups. We’re the kind of program where right now, it’s all hands on deck in game one. You’ll likely see both of them throw in the first game.
Q: What can you say about your five-man senior class featuring guys like shortstop Morgan McIntosh and second baseman Brett Newman?
A: They’re definitely the social and emotional leaders of the team. When they’re having success, that helps everybody and the confidence spreads in the dugout. We need those guys to play well on Saturday in order to win two games and make the state tournament. [...]
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman runs down three things to know heading into the Class 5A and Class 4A district baseball tournaments this Saturday across the state.
5A hosts are No. 1 Cherry Creek, No. 2 Legend, No. 3 Mountain Vista, No. 4 Rocky Mountain, No. 5 Rock Canyon, No. 6 Mountain Range, No. 7 Regis Jesuit and No. 8 Legacy.
4A hosts are No. 1 Denver North, No. 2 Windsor, No. 3 Valor Christian, No. 4 Palisade, No. 5 Air Academy, No. 6 Pueblo West, No. 7 Silver Creek and No. 8 Canon City .
Each four-team tournament begins with Game 1 at 10 a.m., followed by Game 2 at 12:30 p.m. and the championship at 3 p.m.
Denver North looks to put city ball back at the map
The Vikings (19-0) put the finishing touches on the program’s first-ever perfect regular season last week with two wins over rival Denver East, and are one of three undefeated teams left in all of Colorado along with Class 2A’s Paonia and Peyton, both of which are 18-0. The scariest part about this team? Ernesto Marquez, a 2001 North graduate who grew up two blocks from the school, has his players buying into a title pursuit not just for themselves, but all of “the north side”. Thomas Jefferson also made the 4A playoffs out of the Denver Prep League, as did East and Lincoln in 5A.
Some district brackets are nothing short of nightmarish
The RPI did some teams no favors, and their reward for successful seasons was a brutal district draw. Class 5A District 2 features four state tournament-caliber teams in Legacy, Mullen, Brighton and Pine Creek, as does District 4, where Continental League heavyweights Rock Canyon and Heritage are matched up with always-strong Grandview and western slope sleeper Grand Junction. And in Class 4A, District 2 is top-heavy with Canon City headlining and equally capable Golden, Green Mountain and Longmont also in the field.
Pitching is key, but sluggers could be deciding factor
Pitching is clearly the key to winning two games in one day in order to be one of eight teams advancing to next weekend’s state tournament, but hitting for power is also a crucial variable to be considered. In tight ball games, hitters with the ability to go deep could make the difference. Watch out for Brighton slugger Liam Eddy, who leads all of Colorado with 10 dingers through 19 games, as well as Chatfield senior Jack Winkler (8 HR), Mountain Vista senior Cole Blatchford (7), Ralston Valley junior Luke Leisenring (6), Eaglecrest senior Garrett Tisdall (6) and Legend senior Jordan Stubbings (6). [...]
Last season, Fairview did what no girls tennis program has done since 1996—they slayed Goliath, a.k.a. Cherry Creek, by capturing the Class 5A team title to break the Bruins’ 19-year championship streak.
Heading into the 2017 state tournament this Thursday through Saturday at the Gates Tennis Center, Fairview is a favorite to win the title again. And this time around, it’s the Knights who posses the influence that comes with being the defending champion.
“We’ve heard kids at a tournament say, ‘Oh, you’ve got to play Fairview — good luck,'” said 25th-year Fairview coach Susan Stensrud. “That’s kind of like that Cherry Creek mentality, where if you play Cherry Creek, you’ve lost before you’ve even gotten on the court. That’s helped us quite a bit this year.”
Fairview has finished runner-up to Cherry Creek four times since 2010, but this weekend, it won’t be just a two-team race for the title.
Two other programs, Mountain Vista and Ralston Valley, also qualified their entire squad for the state tournament. Plus, Ponderosa (featuring No. 1 doubles duo Hunter Barker and Sydney Waite) and Fossil Ridge (the Sabercats have what Stensrud calls “the best overall doubles in the state”) will also challenge for the crown in a year where depth will be a deciding factor.
“The key to winning the team title is for everyone to do their part,” Stensrud said. “In the past, I’ve had very strong teams where we could have won, but because one position went out early in the bracket, we lost.”
The Knights aren’t feeling the heat to repeat, though, despite the fact that their star sophomore Seraphin Castelino — the 2016 No. 1 singles champion — was sidelined this season with a rotator cuff injury.
“There’s no pressure this year because we finished second so many times, and we finally did win the title,” Stensrud said. “Everything is gravy at this point, so anything we do, I’m happy with. We’re not like, ‘Maybe we can do it this year,’ because we’ve already done it and I feel we have the experience as the state champions to carry that relaxed mindset into the tournament.”
Sophomore Sophie Pearson leads Fairview at No. 1 singles after capturing the No. 3 singles title last season. She’s lost only once this season, to Poudre junior Ky Ecton (last season’s runner-up at No. 1 singles), who also headlines a stacked No. 1 singles bracket featuring other favorites such as Smoky Hill’s Anshika Singh, Mountain Vista’s Casey Zhong and Fruita Monument’s Sarah Fleming.
Other highlights to the Knights’ lineup include senior Angela Cai at No. 2 singles, senior Ellie Savage at No. 3 singles and the tandem of Rachel Heilbronner and Kylie Feliciano at No. 1 doubles.
“We have a lot of experience and depth at singles, but we have a lot of inexperience at doubles,” Stensrud said. “So we’re hoping that over the past two weeks, we’ve prepared ourselves for the state tournament.”
Looking beyond Class 5A, Cheyenne Mountain headlines Class 4A, while Colorado Academy is at the forefront of the brand-new Class 3A.
“In Class 4A, Cheyenne Mountain is always the team to beat, and probably will be again this year,” Stensrud said. “Kent Denver is also an exceptional team in 4A, and their singles players are very tough with Josie Schafer and Amanda Schlatter. I’d say they will give Cheyenne Mountain a run for their money.”
All matches for every classification begin at 9 a.m. on each day of the tournament, weather dependent. The 4A tournament is at Pueblo City Park, while the 3A tournament is at Centennial Park in Greeley. [...]
Each week, Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman releases his power rankings for Class 5A and 4A baseball, girls soccer and boys lacrosse. As the final rankings of the spring season, Newman breaks down his “Postseason Power Five” in each sport heading into the playoffs:
Rocky Mountain (13-5)
Mountain Vista (14-5)
Cherry Creek (14-5)
Denver North (19-0)
Pueblo West (15-4)
Valor Christian (15-4)
Silver Creek (13-6)
5A GIRLS SOCCER
Cherry Creek (14-0-1)
4A GIRLS SOCCER
Valor Christian (13-1)
The Classical Academy (13-1)
Wheat Ridge (13-2)
5A BOYS LACROSSE
Cherry Creek (14-1)
Regis Jesuit (12-3)
Mountain Vista (10-5)
Wheat Ridge (13-2)
4A BOYS LACROSSE
Valor Christian (11-4)
Cheyenne Mountain (11-4)
Thompson Valley (11-4) [...]
Bryan Wickoren calls out, “On your mark, get set, go!” and lowers his arm sharply. Five girls burst off for a 50-yard dash on the track at Lakewood’s Jeffco Stadium. One girl pulls away from the pack as spectators and other participants encourage and help the others toward the finish line.
Instead of who finishes first or jumps the farthest, it’s the event itself that brings joy to participants and spectators.
Students from 24 Jefferson County middle and high schools gathered May 5 to wrap up the district’s Adapted Athletics program for the 2016-17 school year. The program gives Jeffco students with disabilities a chance to learn to play and compete in various sports. The track and field meet was the last in a monthly series that included basketball, volleyball, hockey, bowling, softball and cross-country competitions.
“I love it, the kids love it. They look forward to it. That’s the main part. We’re really providing the opportunities to showcase their abilities and not their disabilities,” said Wickoren, the adapted athletics coordinator for Jeffco schools.
The program served approximately 300 students with cognitive or physical disabilities this school year and has grown steadily since Wickoren was hired in 2006, when there were about 50 students participating in the program. It’s modeled off a similar program in Minnesota where disabled students can letter in a sport and teams are ranked.
Hardwood harmony: Unified Sports brings students, communities together in Douglas County
Jeffco students compete for their school and Wickoren also organized a regional basketball tournament with schools from other districts.
“We try to make it as cool as possible,” Wickoren said.
Tia Jensen, an adapted athletics teacher at Fletcher Miller School — which serves disabled children of all grades — helped start the countywide Adapted Athletics program in 2004 and is happy about its growth.
“It’s grown hugely with Bryan and the coordination of others. … I think we’re a model district in doing adapted athletics in the Denver metro area,” Jensen said. “There’s not a lot out there for some of these kids. It provides that opportunity to participate with their peers as well.”
Fletcher Miller School had a strong showing at the track meet May 5, including 11-year-old Ally Campbell. Campbell’s mother, Victoria, was there to cheer on her daughter and was surprised at the size of the event.
Ally loves running and seeing friends from neighboring schools, she said.
“She loves them, she loves being outside, she loves being active. She loves the crowds,” Campbell said.
The program’s growth largely has stemmed from the effort to get more adapted or unified physical education courses in Jeffco schools. Unified classes include all students, regardless of ability or challenge, and give children an opportunity to interact.
Many of the students in the unified classes who don’t compete end up volunteering at the countywide events, and Wickoren also has seen a growing number of volunteers from local schools’ varsity sports teams.
Standley Lake High School senior Camille Garcia is in a unified class and volunteered at the districtwide track and field event. She also assisted with basketball over the winter and said she has enjoyed helping out and getting to know the participants.
“It’s just fun to see how excited they get,” she said. “It’s just an awesome and positive environment. They are accepting of each other and all having fun.”
Lakewood High School has a unified physical education class, and teacher Laura Zlogar said she enjoys seeing the friendships formed in her class and at the events, where so many of the students see former teachers and friends from other schools.
“It’s amazing to see how they have grown socially,” she said.
Junior Reinaldo Mercado is one of Zlogar’s students and participated in the districtwide track and field meet. He said he enjoyed seeing friends and is looking forward to competing next year.
“I feel great. I really love playing against the other schools,” he said.
Zlogar hopes the program continues to grow and praised Wickoren and former Jeffco superintendent Dan McMinimee, who was a staunch supporter of the program.
“I would love to see adapted athletics or a unified class at every school,” Zlogar said. “It needs to be taught by a quality physical education teacher. It’s something beyond what a special ed teacher can do.” [...]
The following is a look at the marquee games this week in baseball, girls soccer and boys lacrosse as playoff action begins across the state. (Records are current as of Monday).
The Class 5A brackets are due out Wednesday and district tournaments start Saturday. The district tournament has proven difficult to navigate, as pitching depth is the key to winning the two games necessary to advance to the state tournament. And it’s a stretch of the playoffs where home-field advantage doesn’t seem to mean as much — last season, four of the eight district hosts in Class 5A did not advance to state.
No. 21 Denver East (6-9) at No. 12 Arapahoe (11-4), Tuesday 7 p.m., LPS Stadium: After starting the season 0-6, Denver East rebounded to win the Denver Prep League largely thanks to the play of senior striker Gabby Costain. Meanwhile, the Warriors topped the Angels 3-0 on March 18 and, although paced by junior striker Dani Babb’s 13 goals, have balance to the tune of 14 different goal scorers this spring.
No. 20 Cherokee Trail (7-6-2) at No. 13 Chaparral (10-2-3), Tuesday 6 p.m., EchoPark Stadium: Both sides stumbled down the stretch of the regular season, but Cherokee Trail’s Centennial League schedule and Chaparral’s Continental League schedule have set the stage for a clash between two equal opponents. Cherokee Trail needs freshman keeper Paige Hickman to play big, while the tandem of junior Eliot Edwards and senior Malak Rafik leads the Wolverine attack.
No. 12 Highlands Ranch (9-6) vs No. 5 Kent Denver (11-4), Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.: Coach Matt Bocklet and the Falcons are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and are led by seniors Tommy Mott (48 goals) and Nick Gallegos (41 goals). Kent Denver begins its pursuit of its sixth boys lacrosse title and first since 2008, and boasts a high-powered offense with five attackers with 18 goals or more on the spring.
No. 10 Columbine (11-4) vs No. 7 Colorado Academy (11-4), Wednesday 5 p.m.: Columbine started 8-0 but went 4-4 down the difficult stretch of the regular season. Junior goalie Gavin Beilman must be clutch in net for the Rebels in order to hold off a potent Colorado Academy attack headlined by senior Matt Pollack’s 34 goals. [...]
(Photo by Brad Cochi, BoCo Preps)Jefferson Academy sophomore Mira Houck gains possession against Peak to Peak on April 5. The Jaguars are the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A state tournament.
Over the past two seasons, Jefferson Academy soccer has knocked on the door of history as it vied to become the school’s first girls team state champion. The Jaguars fell 1-0 to Colorado Academy in the 2015 title match and lost 2-0 to Kent Denver in the semifinals last season.
Now this spring, all signs are pointing to another crack at history as Jefferson Academy enters the Class 3A state tournament as the No. 1 seed and, considering the invaluable playoff experience many of the Jaguars have seen the past two seasons, the hands-down favorite to win the crown.
“The opportunity to get into those final couple of tournament games is such a profound experience that the kids come away with a better understanding of how to handle the stress level of those high-pressure games,” fifth-year Jefferson Academy girls soccer coach Denise Sutton said. “We’ve seen that poise in a lot of our tough games this year.”
The Jaguars notched signature wins over No. 3 Manitou Springs, No. 6 The Academy and No. 7 Kent Denver during the regular season, with their lone blemishes coming by way of a tie to 4A No. 23 Standley Lake in the season opener and a 1-0 loss to No. 2 Colorado Academy on April 10.
Specifically, the loss to Colorado Academy showed the Jaguars that while they certainly have reason to be at the forefront of the championship conversation, they can’t take anyone for granted in what is a battle-tested 3A playoff field.
“It’s hard not to envision that goal of a championship, but the reality is we have very strong teams in 3A that compete against a lot of 4A and 5A teams,” Sutton said. “We know what’s ahead of us, because we may be the No. 1 seed, but we’re not truly No. 1 until the end.”
Sophomore strikers Mira Houck (13 goals) and Kristen Capan (12) pace the Jaguars offensively, and freshman keeper Brooklynn Kirkpatrick (third in 3A with a 0.527 goals against average) has been reliable minding the net.
Meanwhile, senior captains Kristi Nagai (Southern Utah), Jennika Chapman (Concordia Nebraska) and Samantha Spitz provide the leadership that has been critical to binding the team together en route to the Region 6 League championship.
“These girls genuinely care about each other, and the way they spend time on and off the field together creates a unique dynamic,” assistant coach Hannah Wilson said. “So when they get into those pressure moments, it’s a little bit easier to play for the person next to you sometimes than to play for yourself. We try to create an environment where that kind of chemistry can develop, and then the girls run with it.”
Jefferson Academy has a first-round bye and will open the state tournament Saturday at home against the winner of the game matching No. 16 Resurrection Christian and No. 17 Coal Ridge. The tournament concludes with the state championship match May 23 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
CLASS 2A PREVIEW
Front-runners: No. 1 Denver Christian (13-2) and defending champion No. 2 Dawson (11-3) headline the field — Denver Christian blanked Dawson 5-0 on April 20 — while No. 3 Front Range Christian (9-6) enters the tournament as winner of seven straight matches.
Players to watch: Kara Amidon, Fr. F, Denver Christian; Hannah Isenhart, Sr. F, Dawson; McKenna Monk, Sr. F, Fountain Valley; Samantha O’Brien, Jr. F, Clear Creek; Amanda Bost, Sr. GK, Evangelical Christian.
Playoff dates: First round May 9, quarterfinals May 12, semifinals May 17, championship May 23.
CLASS 4A PREVIEW
Front-runners: No. 1 Valor Christian (13-1) has looked strong all season after finishing as state runner-up last year, while defending state champion No. 3 Lewis-Palmer (13-2) is led by one of the best strikers in the state in senior Brianna Alger.
Players to watch: Bri Johnson, Sr. F, Valor Christian; Camryn Dyke, Sr. MF, Valor Christian; Brianna Alger, Sr. F, Lewis-Palmer; Alex Nillen, Sr. F, Wheat Ridge; Laryssa Hamblen, Soph. F, D’Evelyn; Hannah Burgo, Sr. F, The Classical Academy; Abby Gearhart, Soph. MF, Windsor; Melina Faris, Fr. F, Pueblo County.
Playoff dates: First round May 10, second round May 13, quarterfinals May 17, semifinals May 20, championship May 24.
CLASS 5A PREVIEW
Front-runners: It’s a wide-open chase, but Centennial League heavyweights No. 1 Cherry Creek (14-0-1) and No. 2 Grandview (11-3-1) — the two-time defending champion — are playing at their peak heading into the state tournament.
Players to watch: Libby Geraghty, Sr. F, Cherry Creek; Meg Halvorson, Sr. MF, Cherry Creek; Hailey S [...]