Hunter Peifer spent the majority of her season waiting.
Finally given her chance, the Cheyenne Mountain freshman picked the perfect time to show what she can do.
Getting the start at goalie after senior Sarah Schneider was lost to an injury Tuesday, Peifer turned in several stellar saves Thursday in shutting out previously unbeaten Palmer Ridge as the Indians won 2-0 to claim their second straight 4A Metro girls’ soccer championship.
“I just stepped in and did what I love to do,” Peifer said.
Peifer didn’t see a lot of action early in the game, as the Indians – who won the coin toss and played with a strong wind at their backs – controlled the action for the first 20 minutes.
That onslaught resulted in three corner kicks, the third of which led to a goal when Haley McFarlane scored on a kick delivered by Amy Eckert in the 18th minute.
“Amy played like the most brilliant ball in that I’ve ever had and I just stood at the back post and headed it in,” the senior said.
The goal was the first that Palmer Ridge (14-1, 9-1 4A Metro) had allowed since the first half of the season’s first game as they had outscored opponents 66-1.
“That was huge,” Cheyenne Mountain (15-0, 10-0) coach Tomas Martinez said. “That team, they’re so defensively strong, we knew if they scored first that we would be in trouble, because then they would sit back.”
Palmer Ridge had plenty of chances to get back into it, but Peifer saw to it that nothing found the goal.
“She’s been hungry all year, so I had no doubt she would step up and play tough,” Martinez said. “(Peifer and Schneider) have been battling all year. It’s been tough. It’s been tough to start Sarah, but we went with senior leadership and she’s got about 60 more games under her belt for her so we went that route. But they’re both tough as nails. They support each other and they make each other better with the training they do, so we’re very lucky.”
Cheyenne Mountain sealed it with 10 minutes remaining when Sarah Walters grabbed a loose ball, dribbled down the middle and put it into the right corner.
“It’s extremely exciting,” McFarlane said after celebrating the league title. “This is, like, the best feeling ever right now.”
The teams entered Thursday ranked No. 1 and 2 in 4A according to a statewide poll conducted by the Denver Post.
This game should do nothing to change that.
“This should be the championship game,” Martinez said. “I think we are the top two teams in the state. I hope we don’t see them again, I’ll say that much.”
The opinion was a bit different on the other side of the field at Cheyenne Mountain.
“Hopefully we’ll get to see that team again and hopefully it’s in the finals,” Palmer Ridge coach Nick Odil said. “We’ll see.”