MONUMENT A late-season coaching change elevated assistant coach Ryan Parsons to the top of the Lewis-Palmer girls' soccer program. Strangely enough, Dan Watkins, his high school coach at Wheat Ridge, stood at the other bench Tuesday in a first-round playoff game at Don Breese Stadium.
The teacher claimed victory in the first matchup with his former player.
Thanks to two first-half goals from freshman Susan Whitney, the Farmers built a lead and held off the Rangers 2-1 to advance in the 4A playoffs. No. 22 Wheat Ridge (11-4-1) next will play at Green Mountain (12-0-1) in a second-round game Friday.
'I couldn't be prouder of how he's grown up and matured, and come in and taken charge of a difficult situation, ' Watkins said of Parsons. 'It's a joy to be out there with him, and it means a lot to me as a coach and it makes it fun. The flip side is that there's only one winner. '
With five games remaining in the regular season, Parsons, a 2001 Wheat Ridge graduate, switched roles with previous head coach Joe Martin. The Rangers (9-6-1) went 3-1-1 to end the league schedule, allowing them to place fifth in the highly competitive Pikes Peak Athletic Conference and earn a home game as the No. 11 seed.
'It was more about trying to get a little enthusiasm going, ' Parsons said. 'We found a little lull, so we were trying to change it up a little bit. Falling short is a bitter thing with all the years I spent at Wheat Ridge. But I'm with Lewis-Palmer now, and it's time to move on and get ready for next year. '
Wheat Ridge, which won 4A state titles in 2009-10, scored first with 15:22 left in the first half. Whitney fired a low shot that clanked off the left post but caromed in off the body of outstretched Rangers goalie Haley Arsenault.
Then, with 3:01 left before halftime, she collected a long pass from Elise Boisnard, who forced a steal near midfield. Whitney then made a nice run down the right side and blasted a long, arcing shot over Arsenault and into the corner of the net.
Michelle Coleman gave Lewis-Palmer new life just 1:26 into the second half, dribbling a shot past Farmers goalie Carly Manahan, who was caught out of position after the original shot bounced off several players in front and found Coleman alone on the left side.
'I was able to tap it in underneath the goalie, ' Coleman said. 'You do whatever you can to get the ball in the goal. It just wasn't enough. '