PARKER - Soccer is a game of grace and finesse. Or at least it should be.
During a decade of watching Colorado high school girls' soccer, I've seen a variety of questionable tactics. Well, actually, the tactics sometimes travel beyond questionable into the realm of flat-out dirty.
That's why I was happy to see a yellow card in the 60th minute of Cheyenne Mountain's 1-0 victory over Valor Christian in the state 4A semifinals. I'm a supporter of yellow cards, which can be used by referees to return order to The Beautiful Game.
One yellow card serves as a stern warning. A second yellow means ejection.
Cheyenne Mountain's Cheyenne Golden was the recipient of the yellow card, and she reacted exactly as I thought she would.
"It shouldn't have been a yellow card," she said. "I didn't push or shove her."
But Golden agrees with the need for more yellow cards. She's spent this spring tangling with various Colorado mean girls.
"Most girls," Golden said, "they try to kill you and send you to the hospital."
I fail to fully agree with Golden's description. I've yet to see criminal intent from high school soccer players.
And yet ...
I have seen too much mayhem, inspired in part by a lazy "just let them play" attitude from refs.
The Valor-Cheyenne Mountain rivalry is spirited, just short of bitter. Valor Christian eliminated an unbeaten Indians team in last season's state playoffs.
Earlier this season, Valor Christian surprised Cheyenne Mountain with another victory.
After that loss, the Indians gathered in a circle and made a promise to each other.
"Remember this feeling!" they shouted. "We're never going to have this feeling again this season!"
On Saturday, Cheyenne Mountain grabbed the early lead in the 18th minute after a penalty kick by Hayley Patterson and then employed a stingy, aggressive defense to ride into the finals.
Cheyenne Mountain will play Broomfield for the title at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Let me be clear: Both Valor Christian and Cheyenne Mountain were aggressive. Too aggressive. The yanking and pushing and bumping at times turned the game into a dangerous, chaotic mess, and the second-half yellow served as a badly needed call to order from the officiating crew.
Cheyenne Mountain coach Tomas Martinez pushes his team to play with maximum effort. Cheyenne Mountain, the state's top seed, is stacked with talent, but competes with the ruthless hunger of an underdog.
VC matched that hunger Saturday. This explains the game's resemblance to a boxing match.
"It was rough," Martinez said. "It was very rough."
In the final minutes, VC's Hannah Hommel broke free for an instant and looked ready to deliver a game-tying goal, but refs correctly whistled her for being offside.
An instant later, Hommel got decked by defender Amanda Burke.
"That was probably a little bit late," Burke said, cringing as she remembered the sequence.
It was probably time for another yellow card.