DENVER — Exactly 329 days had passed since Denver Christian defeated the Dawson School girls soccer team by one goal in the Class 2A state championship match.
The Dawson School girls, who have come up short in three straight 2A title games, have been counting down the days until their next shot at Denver Christian came on Wednesday evening. Not only was the game a rematch of last year's championship contest, it may turn out to have been a 2018 state title match preview as Denver Christian took the field ranked No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com poll and the Mustangs laced up their cleats that day undefeated and holding the No. 2 spot.
Wednesday's contest proved to be worth the wait for the Mustangs, who left with a 4-1 victory and an important boost of confidence for what they hope is a fourth straight run to the title match.
"I'm super proud of them because they've been looking forward to this game since May 23 of last year when they walked away with a loss," Dawson head coach David Criswell said. "To end up with the result we did is fantastic."
Dawson freshman Degen Miller wasn't on the team for the 2017 championship game but she has been hearing about it constantly from her teammates since the season began. Miller has done her part to keep the Mustangs (8-0, 2-0 Region 5) undefeated with Colorado's second-best total of 24 goals and broke the ice against the Thunder (8-3, 1-1 Region 5) with an unassisted goal in the ninth minute.
"I had heard lots of things about how this was the team that beat us in the state championship last year by one goal," Miller said. "I was definitely super excited to play them and I definitely thought that first goal gave us a little bit of a kick start. Once we got it, the rest kind of came with it. Our team came together after that, connected passes and started building and doing well."
Dawson senior Liv Cramer scored off a pretty pass from teammate Cameron Epstein in the 23rd minute and the Mustangs went into halftime with a 2-0 lead. Six minutes into the second half, Epstein scored a goal of her own to give the Mustangs a three-goal lead on the road.
Mustangs junior goalkeeper Kate Gallop finished with six saves and was pleased with the way the Mustangs defense helped build that commanding lead by holding the Thunder, who average 5.2 goals a game, scoreless until Miranda Kortenhoeven scored in the 62nd minute.
"I think the biggest thing was that we did a great job winning the middle of the field," Gallop said. "They had a few balls that were close but we hustled back and communicated really well. As a team we've developed a lot since last year and we have a lot of freshmen who have made the team more well-rounded as a group. We're just working really hard and playing really well together."
Assisted by Elise Freedman, Dawson's Alex Dunbar added a fourth goal in the 67th minute. The Mustangs have now outscored their first 10 opponents 56-3.
The Mustangs will be back in action on Saturday when they host Clear Creek (6-1, 5-1 Region 7) at 10:30 a.m. for a non-conference game.
Dawson School 4, Denver Christian 1
At Denver Christian SchoolDawson (8-0, 2-0) 2 2 — 4
Denver Christian (7-3, 1-1) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) —Dawson: Degen Miller, 9th minute; Liv Cramer (Cameron Epstein), 23rd; Epstein, 46th; Alex Dunbar (Elise Freedman), 67th; Denver Christian: Miranda Kortenhoeven, 62nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Dawson: Kate Gallop (80-1-6); Denver Christian: Hally Herder (80-4-3).