Few teams have can boast about having something even better than a third straight trip to the state championship game, but for the Peak to Peak girls soccer team, there is.
The Pumas have the opportunity to avenge their 2011 loss to Classical Academy in the 3A final (6 p.m., Tuesday, Dick's Sporting Good's Park), giving their seniors a rare opportunity to come full circle and depart the program with a sense of finished business.
Granted, Peak to Peak (15-2-2) alleviated some of that pain by winning it all in 2012. But that was against Colorado Academy and didn't completely atone for the loss to the Titans.
"Right before our game on Saturday, when TCA was playing Colorado Academy, my teammates were asking me who I wanted to play," Pumas standout defender Galen Roda said. "I said TCA. For me, it's not about revenge. My older sister (Gabby) was on the team when we lost to them, so for me, it'll be almost like a victory for her if we win."
Galen Roda, whose sophomore sister, Grae, is on this season's team, wants to win not only for her older sister but also for the seniors on the 2011 team.
TCA and Peak to Peak have become fierce rivals over the past two seasons. They played to a scoreless tie on April 3 in a non-league game, so no bragging rights have been established this season. Last season, the Pumas won 2-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the quarterfinals, but TCA's 1-0 win in the 2011 championship remains the signature win in the series.
"We wanted that game so bad, and that drove us to win state last year," said Peak to Peak senior forward Belle Morel, who has scored 37 goals this season. "It drove us this year, too. I think we're going to come out really, really hard against them, because we want revenge for what happened two years ago."
Morel's goal in the second overtime Saturday against Kent Denver punched the No. 2 Pumas' ticket to state, while Meghan Troupe's overtime heroics against Colorado Academy did the same for top-seeded TCA (15-2-1).
Peak to Peak has made brilliant strides since opening the season 1-2, a stretch that included an odd 7-6 loss to Frontier Academy. The Pumas have allowed only eight additional goals all season.
"I think everyone's motivation and our drive has finally kicked in," Roda said. "At the beginning, people were lackadaisical and had trouble getting into it because they were coming off other sports. I think five came from basketball and were trying to make that transition, and we were just really stressed out."
The Pumas also took awhile to mold into the urgency of the season. After two title-game appearances, it took some struggles in a few early regular-season games to reawaken the squad.
"Our defense is structured so well now," Morel said. "At the beginning of the season, we had some trouble with what to do with outside backs. We got that figured out, so our team is really connecting now."
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(2) Peak to Peak vs. (1) The Classical Academy
When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Records: Peak to Peak 15-2-2; The Classical Academy 15-2-1
Notes: The teams have been dominant in the postseason, with Peak to Peak outscoring foes 13-2 and TCA 11-1. . . . Each won in overtime in the semifinals. For TCA, a flu-ridden Meghan Troupe scored in the extra session to give the Titans a 2-1 win against 2012 runner-up Colorado Academy. For Peak to Peak, Belle Morel scored less than 3 minutes into the second overtime to upend Kent Denver 1-0. . . . Morel leads Peak to Peak with 37 goals while Troupe and freshman Mikayla Murphy have registered 14 apiece for TCA. . . . The teams played to a scoreless tie on April 3 in a non-league matchup. . . . Despite playing defense, senior Ivy DeVries is Peak to Peak's second-leading scorer with seven goals and eight assists.