Windsor, Kaleigh Williams not denied shutout this time, as Wizards cruise into quarterfinals of 4A girls soccer playoffs | MyWindsorNow.com

Windsor, Kaleigh Williams not denied shutout this time, as Wizards cruise into quarterfinals of 4A girls soccer playoffs

Bobby Fernandez
bfernandez@greeleytribune.com

When Windsor sophomore Kaleigh Williams jogged off the bench and into the goal box in place of standout senior Michaela Moran with 21 minutes left in a game Saturday, she was relentless.

She had uncompromisable focus.

She was dead set on not letting a single goal get past her.

Her team had a three-goal lead.

Just three days earlier, a playoff-game shutout narrowly slipped through the fingers of Williams and her Wizards teammates.

That wasn't going to happen again Saturday.

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Williams made a series of late-game saves, and top-seeded Windsor dominated all 80 minutes to blank No. 16 Battle Mountain 5-0 in the second round of the Class 4A Girls Soccer Championships at H.J. Dudley Field.

"I was very determined," said Williams, who recorded a team-high three saves in the game's waning minutes.

"I wanted to keep our momentum going, and I was trying to give all my energy into saving everything today."

With the shutout, the Wizards have now outscored their first two playoff opponents 10-1 heading into what will likely be a stiffer challenge Wednesday against No. 8 Standley Lake (12-4-1).

When Williams replaced Moran in goal, Windsor already had the game well in hand. Wizards senior Chaynee Kingsbury just beat Huskies junior goalkeeper Wilder Isom to put Windsor up 3-0.

Williams and her teammates probably could have afforded to relax just a bit without any true threat of losing the game.

But that's not the nature of a Wizards squad that has outscored its 17 opponents 111-9, including nine shutouts, this spring.

Just 1.6 seconds of game time is all that keeps Windsor from having double-digit shutouts right now.

In the final seconds of the Wizards' 5-1 first round win against No. 32 Conifer on Wednesday, Lobos sophomore forward Jordyn West just slipped a goal past Williams.

On the surface, Conifer scoring an inconsequential goal against Windsor's backups with less than 2 seconds left would be no reason to dwell. But, the Wizards haven't engineered an unbeaten season and the top seed in the 32-team postseason by merely shrugging off miscues, no matter how minor they may be.

"When that goal went in against Conifer in the last second of the game, (Williams) reached out and said, 'Coach, let's talk about it. What could I have done differently? How could I organize my defense a little bit better?' " Wizards coach Mario Garcia said. "And, we talked about it. And, she put herself in a good position (Saturday) to make those saves."

Williams' extended stint in goal was flawless, despite Battle Mountain's attackers being much more aggressive against the Wizards' reserves than they were against the starters.

Much like in the game against Conifer, Windsor had to combat a cautious, even conservative, Huskies attack, as Battle Mountain kept a slew of defenders back on the Wizards' side of the field in an attempt to slow Windsor's explosive offense.

The Wizards out-shot the Huskies 21-5, with most of Battle Mountain's shots coming late in the game. Windsor had a 14-1 shot advantage in the first half.

Still, the Huskies' defensive-minded approach hardly deterred the Wizards, as they methodically orchestrated their well-thought-out offense. Windsor sophomore Alexa Kopren saw her near-perfect shot ricochet off the crossbar just 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the game.

Six minutes later, junior Abby Gearhart's shot off a Kingsbury assist found the back of the net.

Then, with 18 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half, Kopren refused to be denied a second time, as she scored off a Meg Zimmerman assist to give the Wizards a 2-0 lead.

Kopren scored again with 20:32 left in the game to extend Windsor's lead to 4-0, securing her first multi-goal playoff performance and ushering the last set of Wizards reserves into the game.

"Not thinking about it all the time and just kind of going out and playing, just connecting with the team, is how we get our goals," Kopren said. "All we work on in practice is those little, tiny details. That's what helps us execute so well and score so many goals."

Double duty

Senior defender Sarah Johnson spends plenty of time on the move — running around Windsor's defensive backfield, jaunting around the golf course and commuting back and forth from the soccer field and the golf links.

She is a dual-sport standout, excelling in soccer and golf.

Saturday, she capped a banner week in which she contributed to two soccer state tournament wins, a regional golf title and earned a berth to the 4A Girls Golf Championships on May 21-22 at Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

On Wednesday at Pelicans Lakes Golf & Country Club, she shot a 7-over-par 79 to place fifth individually and help the Wizards to a dominant team win in the Region 3 tournament. She then quickly made her way across town back to school to get ready for Windsor's soccer game against Conifer.

"It's been a super busy week, but I'm so excited and thankful for all the opportunities that I've gotten and been able to accomplish," she said. "I'm just so thankful everyone has been supporting me, too, and allowing me to be here, doing everything."

Best Individual Performance

Kopren deserves the nod for her two key goals, as she found the perfect seams within the Huskies' tightly packed defense.

Turning point

Kopren's first goal 18:40 into the match put Windsor up 2-0, which already felt like an insurmountable lead with Battle Mountain's conservative offense and the Wizards' air-tight defense.

Up Next

Windsor is one of the final eight teams standing and will play host to Standley Lake in the quarterfinals at a to-be-determined time Wednesday at H.J. Dudley Field.

BMHS 0 0 — 0

WHS 2 3 — 5

Scoring — WHS, Abby Gearhart (Chaynee Kingsbury) 8:41; WHS, Alexa Kopren (Meg Zimmerman) 18:40; WHS, Kingsbury, 49:16; WHS, Kopren, 59:28; Alexandra Ramirez (Zimmerman) 60:59.

Shots — BMHS 5, WHS 21.

Saves — BMHS (Wilder Isom) 7, WHS (Michaela Moran 1, Kaleigh Williams 3) 4.

Corner Kicks — BMHS 1, WHS 3.