Windsor girls soccer falls to Evergreen in state semifinals
May 20, 2017
Highlands Ranch — If at first you don't succeed try, try again — in some cases, again and again and again.
It is a motto the Windsor girls soccer team has adopted over the years, whether by choice or not.
The year 2017 marks the seventh straight year the Wizards have made the playoffs and third straight year they made the semifinals, without a State Championship or even a title game appearance to show for it.
They will have to wait at least one more year after a 2-1 loss to Evergreen on Saturday at Shea Stadium in a matchup few — if any — predicted.
"Semis has something out for us," senior defender Taylon Cockroft said. "I think it's just us knowing that we're so close and all we want to do is take that next step. It's an unfortunate loss."
Windsor, the six seed, made it to this point by winning a double-overtime thriller over powerhouse Cheyenne Mountain in the second round before upsetting defending state champion Lewis-Palmer in the quarterfinals.
Evergreen, the seventh seed, breezed to the quarterfinals, where it upset second-seeded Wheat Ridge on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the Cougars jumped out to an early lead in only the 11th minute.
Elise Adrien got the ball in the center of the field and put a lazy shot on goal that went right through junior goalkeeper Michaela Moran's arms and found the back of the net.
"I told her, 'It's an error, shake it off. We still need you,' " said coach Mario Garcia. "That happens from the time they play U-9 to the professional level. Keepers whiff balls; it happens."
Sophia Weiner added a goal in the 23rd minute to stretch Evergreen's lead to two and force the Wizards to face their first multi-goal deficit of the season.
"We had a good game plan, we just didn't execute it well in the first half," Garcia said. "I told the girls, 'Now we're going to have to change things. Now we're gonna have to really work hard to get one goal.' So we went aggressive."
The Wizards' newfound aggression led to a number of chances, but they still could not get anything past Cougars goalie Sarah Straut.
As the game wore on, meaningful chances grew fewer and farther between as the Wizards watched their chance of a state championship slip through their fingers.
That is until the 86th minute, when the Wizards received a jolt in the form of an Evergreen yellow card when Meg Zimmerman was taken down in the box.
Riley Bleismer capitalized on what would be the last penalty kick of her high school career, placing the ball just under Straut's outstretched arm.
That sparked new life into Windsor, but unfortunately it was too late. It got only one more shot on goal — a scrum in front of Evergreen's goal that excited the crowd but had no real chance of finding the back of the net.
From that point out, the Cougars were able to hold on to the ball and run out the rest of the clock.
"This was a great year that we had, and I'm very proud to be part of this team," Cockroft said. "Us getting so close is just — it sucks. But we have to move on to next season. We're going to have to have the younger girls step up."
Best Individual Performance
Straut had a great game in goal for the Cougars, not letting the Wizards build any momentum throughout. Despite picking up only five saves, she halted a number of other Windsor opportunities.
The turning point didn't come during the game, but throughout the season. Windsor's tendency to win games by 10 goals means it had not experienced a lot of close games, and that inexperience may have been what did them in.
Before the playoffs, Windsor played in only three games decided by one goal, and only one overtime game — an early-season matchup against Sand Creek in which Abby Gearhart sat out and Chaynee Kingsbury played only three minutes.
Although Evergreen will move on to face D'Evelyn in the 4A State Championship game, this is the end of the road for this year's Windsor team.
But as the Wizards know better than almost anyone else, there is always next year. They graduate just two seniors from this year's team — Cockroft and Bleismer — so they should be back next year as strong as ever.
EHS 2 0 — 2
WHS 0 1 — 1
Scoring — EHS, Elise Adrien 11:45, Sophia Weiner 23:16; WHS, Riley Bleismer 76:40
Shots — EHS 8; WHS, 18
Saves — EHS (Straut) 5; WHS (Moran) 4
Corners — WHS 4