LAKEWOOD — With the amount of opportunities that D'Evelyn's girls soccer team generated Wednesday night, it was only a matter of time before the Jaguars broke through.
That's exactly what happened in the second half of the first-round Class 4A state playoff game against Niwot. D'Evelyn snapped a 1-1 tie with the go-ahead goal just minutes into the second half, and the Jags added two insurance goals in the final 18 minutes to secure a 4-1 victory at Lakewood Memorial Field.
No. 16 D'Evelyn (12-3) advanced to the second round and a date with top-seeded Lewis-Palmer.
Niwot coach Rob Johnson said his players gave everything they had, but it was the little things that cost the Cougars (10-6).
"We talked about work ethic - effort, effort, effort," Johnson said. "We gave that and then it's almost like at times our brains got turned off and we made little mistakes here and there. We got punished on those little mistakes."
After D'Evelyn peppered Niwot's defense and sophomore goalkeeper Ali Colvin with five shots in the first half, the Jaguars wasted no time picking up where they left off. In the 45th minute, senior Casey Quirk launched a shot that bounced off the crossbar, and some 20 seconds later Laryssa Hamblen cleaned it up for the 2-1 lead.
Aubrey Sotolongo notched her second goal of the night in the 63rd minute on a ball that glanced down off the crossbar and just crossed the line. Gabby Hess tipped in a ball from Hamblen in the 71st minute to account for the final goal.
Colvin finished with eight saves for Niwot.
"She did great. They're a good team; we're down 2-1 and I'm sending more people forward," Johnson said. "That's the hard part, is that now they can do what they want because I'm sending people forward and now they're possessing the middle a lot better."
Cougars junior Kailee Stobbe scored Niwot's only goal off a cross from Maddie Barkow in the first half, and gave her fellow junior credit for doing all the work. But Niwot managed only two shots on goal in each half as D'Evelyn controlled possession for much of the game.
"It was definitely frustrating near the end because you didn't have a lot of space to do much work," said Stobbe, who praised the Jaguars' Payton Sampson for effectively man-marking her all night. "But we found our holes, we had our opportunities, we just couldn't put it in the back of the net."
After not making the postseason a year ago, Niwot rebounded to finish second in the Northern League and earn the 17th seed in the state tournament. The team will graduate only three seniors in Hannah Gray, Emma Richard and Sarah Sypher.
"All three of them are big impacts in my life. I've played with them for a long time," Stobbe said. "They're amazing girls, they're amazing leaders, they're amazing players. They're leaving a big legacy - big shoes to fill."
Johnson is leaving the program after three seasons, but he said the Cougars will be great with a strong core of underclassmen returning.
"We have a lot of strong players and we have a lot of good leaders," Stobbe said. "Hopefully we'll be able to come strong next year, be able to fill the shoes - if not surpass them - and make Rob proud."
D'Evelyn 4, Niwot 1
At Lakewood Memorial FieldNiwot (10-6) 1 0 — 1
D'Evelyn (12-3) 1 3 — 4
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Kailee Stobbe (Maddie Barkow), 10th minute; D'Evelyn: Aubrey Sotolongo (Laryssa Hamblen), 7th minute; Hamblen, 45th minute; Sotolongo, 63rd minute; Gabby Hess (Hamblen), 71st minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Ali Colvin 80-4-8; D'Evelyn: Courtney Stutheit 80-1-3.