LOUISVILLE — The streaking Fairview girls soccer team has won four of its first five games primarily by overwhelming its opponents at the offensive end.
Thursday's game against undefeated rival Monarch was a different story. It was time for the Knights defense to shine.
On the road and looking to remain unbeaten in Front Range League play, a brutal gauntlet in which wins are increasingly precious, the Knights paired an early goal from freshman Sarina Russ with their first shutout of the season for a 1-0 win over the Coyotes.
"It was just an extraordinary effort by everybody," Knights center back Allison Zech said. "It started with Avery (Tallman) in goal all the way forward, including our forwards. Everybody worked back, everybody tracked and it was amazing."
Without leading scorer Tea Smith, who leads the Front Range League with nine goals but had a club commitment on Thursday, the Knights' defensive effort couldn't have come at a better time. Not only is Monarch a local rival, but the Coyotes are off to as hot a start as the Knights are in 2016.
Entering Thursday's game, the Knights had played a lot of extra soccer in their last three games, which included a 5-4 double-overtime loss to Castle View, a 4-3 overtime win over Cherry Creek and a 2-1 double-overtime win over Boulder. Before toppling early title favorite Broomfield, the Coyotes won the Arapahoe Warrior Invitational in a shootout thriller on March 19 and have since risen to No. 4 in the CHSAANow.com poll.
"This was one we had penciled in early in the season," Knights head coach Dan Niedringhaus said. "The Monarch-Fairview is a good rivalry and it always gets pretty physical. So these girls game out ready and that was by far our best defensive game of the year. Alison Zech and Julia (Masciarelli) did a tremendous job in back and Vicky (Cassarubias) and Emily (Kaplan) did a great job of coming out wide. It was a real team effort and it was fun to watch."
Monarch dominated the attack in the first half, outshooting the Knights 8-3. But Russ got loose and scored on Emily Kaplan's corner kick to give the Knights, who put just three shots on goal, the lead in the 20th minute. After that, the Knights held the Coyotes to four shots in the second half and Tallman's seven saves helped preserve the win.
The Knights will play at No. 2-ranked Broomfield (3-1, 0-1 Front Range) on Tuesday. The Coyotes will play at Loveland (0-4, 0-2 Front Range) on Saturday.
Fairview 1, Monarch 0
At Monarch H.S.Fairview (4-1, 3-0) 1 0 — 1
Monarch (4-1, 1-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Sarina Russ (Emily Kaplan), 20th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Avery Tallman (80-0-7); Monarch: Sophia Chen (80-1-2).