LITTLETON - Monarch's season of adversity and oddities ended in suit on Thursday.
Arapahoe's Zach Westerman scored off a missed penalty kick for the first of his three goals as the ninth-seeded Warriors beat the No. 24 Coyotes 3-0 on an icy night in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
"It's been an arduous journey for them," Monarch coach Balen Arenas said.
And it began in a mess. The Coyotes' newly hired coach was let go a week before the season kicked off and principal Neil Anderson stepped in for the team's first two games.
Arenas didn't arrive until game 3.
"They have had to adjust to different styles and I think they responded well," Arenas said. "For me personally, I wish I would have got to them earlier to develop what we wanted to do."
On Thursday as flurries swirled around Littleton Public Schools Stadium, Monarch (8-7-1) contained Cameron Gail, the 5A leader in goals for Arapahoe (13-2-1). But had no answer for Westerman, a rare goal scorer.
Westerman's first goal of the season came in the 11th minute when he swatted back Gail's missed PK.
Keeper Hank Dalle-Molle laid out to his right on Gail's boot. The ball deflected off his hand and then ricocheted off the right post to Westerman, who was in the middle of the box with Dalle-Molle still on the ground.
"It definitely hurt," the junior keeper said. "Our one problem all year, we've had a very good defense but we've had a tough time putting them in, so that one was kind of a deflator."
Monarch had a man-advantage in the second half when Westerman added two more. The junior midfielder netted a PK of his own in the 53rd minute and made it a hat trick with a strong header in the 57th.
"I thought we contained (Gail) well," Arenas said. "Give credit to them, though, they had someone else step up."
Monarch lost its third straight game to end the year. The Coyotes began the season 5-0-1 with six straight shutouts despite the turmoil, but finished 3-7.
"The season began pretty incredible," senior captain Macklin Harrington said. "We were going hard and we were doing something special.
"We knew we didn't have the skill and especially the foundation as some of the other teams had ... But we emphasized hard work and the way I looked at the season was like, if we can make something out of this, if we can bind together and make something out of what we had, that's a success."
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Arapahoe 3, Monarch 0
At Littleton Public Schools Stadium(24) Monarch (8-7-1, 5-6-1)00—0
(9) Arapahoe (13-2-1, 6-1)12—3
Goals (assists) —Arpahoe: Zach Westerman (Cameron Gail), 17th minute; Westerman, 53rd minute; Westerman (Zander Hahn), 57th minute; Monarch: None.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Arapahoe: Spencer Cobb (80-0-5); Monarch: Hank Dalle-Molle (80-3-7).