Manitou Springs star Erika Yost had high hopes for the Mustangs' Thursday night soccer clash with archrival St. Mary’s.
“I thought we had a really good shot to beat them,” she said.
That’s not how it turned out. St. Mary’s rolled to a dominating 5-0 victory over the Mustangs in the 3A state quarterfinals at the Grace Center. The victory sends the Pirates to the semifinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
St. Mary’s coach Gregg Braha was thrilled by his team’s performance.
“That’s as well as we’ve played this season,” he said.
The loss ends a strong season by Manitou Springs. The Mustangs took a bold approach to this season, scheduling state powers Holy Family, Colorado Academy, The Classical Academy and St. Mary’s.
On April 4, the Mustangs gave the Pirates a severe scare before losing 2-1. This effort left Manitou Springs players filled with hope. They had plenty of reason to believe after winning eight of their last nine games.
But that hope was squashed early. St. Mary’s is on a roll, playing superb team soccer. The Pirates are generous, boast strong depth, play a stingy brand of defense and have scored 10 goals in the past two games.
Emily Loof started the barrage with 33 minutes left in the first half, scoring on a point-blank shot. The Pirates nearly scored twice in the next 2 minutes, and it was clear this was not going to be the close game the Mustangs had envisioned.
Manitou Springs almost delivered one shining moment. With 12 minutes left in the first half, senior Chelsea Gibas surged through St. Mary’s defense and beat goalie Ashley Bradford with a shot.
But it hit the post. It was the prelude to much pain for the Mustangs. A minute later, Kathleen Plamondon scored for St. Mary’s on an assist from Nicole Niles, and 90 seconds after that Sarah Egbert scored on a header.
The Pirates led, 3-0. The Manitou Springs bench fell silent. The rout was on.
St. Mary’s will play Saturday in the semis against Colorado Academy, which upset No. 1 seed Holy Family.
Meanwhile, Manitou Springs players will start plotting for ways to defeat their longtime nemesis.
Mustangs coach Maurissa Mursch took the right approach after the game. She and her players indulged in a few tears, but quickly gained their composure and started looking ahead.
Thursday’s defeat, Mursch said, could be valuable for the future of the program. Yes, the Pirates were mighty.
“They’re a great team, but this kind of game builds us,” Mursch said. “It helps us see what we need to do.”