Monument Relying on its solid defense as always, Palmer Ridge capitalized when it got the chance.
Mackenzie Gouner scored a fantastic goal in the first half and Poli Warwick added an insurance goal late to put the No. 3 Bears back in the 4A state quarterfinals, as Palmer Ridge defeated No. 14 Evergreen 2-0 on Friday.
Getting outhustled to most 50-50 balls in the first half, the Bears saw their fortunes change when Gouner lunged as far as her foot could reach to redirect Molly Malone's cross past an unsuspecting Natalie Ulfig.
'That is a world-class finish that they had, ' Evergreen coach Peter Jeans said. 'Almost against the run of play, but it's a great finish from a great player because that changes the game. '
Even Gouner didn't expect to get to the pass.
'I just knew that I had to get one foot on it because the goalie was coming out, ' said the Bears' leading goal-scorer with 17. 'I managed to just get my toe on it and put it in. I actually didn't (think I'd get to it), but then I guess I stretched far enough and touched it. '
Not to be outdone, Warwick made the most of her first goal of the season, scoring with her head off a corner kick. It was a goal the Bears deserved, as the offense really clicked in the second half. It put them up two with 15:15 to play.
'I headed it and I didn't even think I did, ' said Warwick, whose celebration was muted to say the least.
The Bears defense was as strong as ever, posting the team's sixth shutout. They never gave up a solid scoring opportunity to the Cougars. Evergreen entered the game with three players who'd registered six goals apiece.
'We did a good job defensively today, ' Palmer Ridge coach Nick Odil said. 'Shutting out any team is tough, and shutting out a team that can attack with some pace is really good. '
Last season, the Bears reached the semifinals before falling in the 4A playoffs. They're only one win away from getting back there. They'll play the winner between Wheat Ridge and Green Mountain, the team that eliminated them a year ago.