The last remaining area 5A girls’ soccer team has fallen.
No. 8 Pine Creek could not get its offense going against No. 9 Rock Canyon in a 1-0 loss in the second round of the 5A state tournament at District 20 Stadium Saturday afternoon. Nancy Hunt scored the game’s lone goal on a redirect of a corner kick 1:52 into the second half, and the Jaguars’ quick and efficient defense stifled the Eagles for most of the 80-minute contest.
“I saw it coming in and realized (the ball) was too low for my head, so I just put my whole body behind it and it luckily hit the back of the net,” said Hunt, a senior defender. “I was definitely due for that goal.”
Pine Creek (11-4-2) had few chances to score and struggled to put together an effective attack against Rock Canyon (12-3-2), which has won 10 of its last 11. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Eagles, who won their fourth straight Colorado Springs Metro League title this season.
“It was frustrating, and I think we got panicked from the very beginning,” said senior co-captain Annie Woolridge, who will leave Pine Creek tied for the program’s all-time lead in assists with 35. “We stopped playing our style of soccer and gave into what the other team was doing, and we didn’t play the smartest game we’ve played all season. If we could have just calmed ourselves, composed ourselves and played with the ball on the ground, we could have done so much better.
“The score today doesn’t reflect it, and the way we played doesn’t reflect it, but I know we were a state championship-caliber team.”
Considering the teams had combined for 14 shutout wins and three scoreless ties, the low-scoring affair was no surprise. Rock Canyon had the edge in shots on goal and time of possession, with Pine Creek struggling to piece together effective passes through the Jaguars’ defensive net.
It was a frustrating day for the Eagles.
“You have to give credit to Rock Canyon,” Pine Creek coach John Frederick said. “We started out with a lot of bad first touches and bad passes, and that gave them a lot of opportunities. The set plays really did us in today, as far as opportunities, and we went too direct today and should have done more things laterally.”
Rock Canyon advances to the state quarterfinals for the first time since the school opened its doors in 2003.
“We thought we’d have a better chance if we could get more set pieces in, and luckily it worked out,” Rock Canyon coach Mat Henbest said. “They gave us a little more work and trouble in the first half, but in the second half, our midfield controlled the game a little bit more and took some pressure off the defense.”
Frederick was proud of his squad’s success in 2012, a year after losing top talent from a team that went 15-2-2 and reached the state semifinals.
“Everybody thought we’d be down, and I’m very proud of them and the way they played,” Frederick said. “Pine Creek is a great place to play soccer, and I believe that truly.”