Cheyenne Mountain girls' soccer coach Tomas Martinez began the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference All-Star games last season in hopes of giving area athletes an opportunity they weren't previously getting: the opportunity to show their talent in an all-star game.
Thursday night, in the second installment of the game, that talent was on full display.
The boys played first in a lopsided affair. The white team - made up of players from Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain, Sand Creek and Vista Ridge - came out of the gates quickly. Sand Creek's Garrett Kramer started things off with a goal in the first 10 minutes, and from there, the floodgates were blown open.
Vista Ridge's Joel Walker scored a hat trick of goals and Cheyenne Mountain's Luke White scored two of his own en route to a 9-2 victory over the dark team - made up of players from Falcon, Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge and Discovery Canyon.
"I just feel honored just to represent my school, my team, my coaches," Walker said. "It's just always fun to play in front of some friends and family, so it really means a lot to me."
The girls' game was a much closer match. This time the dark team scored first, thanks to a goal from Lewis-Palmer's Kate Devine.
From there, the teams played evenly for much of the rest of the game. Late in the game, though, Sand Creek's Amanda Garrett ripped a shot from the top of the box and past a diving goalkeeper to even the score at one.
The teams scrambled to try and salvage a victory, but with tired legs and stout goalkeeping, neither could muster the winning tally.
The game ended in a tie, but, for many, the opportunity to play was worth more than a victory.
"For some of them, it's the last game ever that they'll play," said Air Academy coach Espen Hosoien, the coach of the girls' white team. "I think it just rounds it up really well and I know the players really enjoy playing in it. ... It's fun. I'm proud that our league is able to do it."
True enough, as only a handful of the athletes have signed to continue playing soccer in college.
And as the sun set over Cheyenne Mountain High School after the girls' game, some of the players posed with their teammates and coaches as parents took pictures from the stands.
Hosoien wrapped the experience up well, saying: "Especially for the seniors, it's a fun goodbye to high school soccer."