Palmer Ridge can't overcome two penalty-kick goals in state semis 2-1 loss

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LITTLETON • In an all-or-nothing Class 5A girls’ soccer state playoff game, all of the goals were scored by Heritage and there was nothing Doherty could do about it.

The only player who had ever been to the playoffs before for the Spartans was senior defender Stephanie Miller — and all she could do was watch with a broken foot as the host struck early in each half to beat Doherty 3-0 Wednesday in the first round at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.

Miller found out about the break early Wednesday morning.

“She suffered the injury against Pine Creek about a week ago and then she had a death in the family and just got back,” Doherty coach Eryn Gallagher said. “We were hoping it was just a sprain.”

The defender played on the team three years ago when the Spartans last made the postseason in 2009.

Wednesday was a tough lesson in experience for the rest of her team.

The Eagles (10-5) took 5 minutes to take the lead in the first and then it took five more in the second to close it out.

In front of a Doherty-dominated crowd at the host’s field, freshman Alyssa Biever scored off a rebound in the 4th minute.

“We just had a breakdown there,” Doherty keeper Taylor Denny said. “It was just a breakdown.”

Lucy Brainerd scalded the game’s first shot off the sprawled, outstretched arms of Denny and then off the deflection Biever made it 1-0 as she speared the right side of the net from left of the box.

“It is inexperience,” Gallagher said. “These girls have never been here before and they learned that if a team comes out and you let them pounce — your season is over.”

Denny made 16 saves on 19 shots but for the third straight game she didn’t get much production out of her team’s offense and its two shots.

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“It’s hard,” Denny said. “But you know we always fight for our seniors and that’s who we play our games for.”

In fact, the last goal scored for Doherty (8-6-2) came in a rout against Mitchell 10-0 last month.

Since then it has been shut out by Pine Creek, Rampart and now the Eagles.

Already down 1-0, the second half started even worse than the first.

After just a dribble over a minute in, Abbey Woods took a crossing pass from Biever and made it 2-0 with 38:58 remaining.

Then, less than 3 minutes later Alex Peters put the game on ice with Heritage’s third goal of the game.

“There were some goals I wish I could have back,” Denny said.

“But that’s always the case.”

But while the junior keeper kept her postgame comments short, her goals from here on out remained lofty.

“I know we’ll find ourselves in the playoffs again,” said Denny about her team, which loses only three seniors.

“Hope to do that and win league next year.”

Heritage faces the Smoky Hill/Chatfield winner in the second round Thursday.

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