DENVER — Peak to Peak head girls soccer coach Joe Swanson heavily emphasized to his team the past few days the importance of putting a team like Colorado Academy on its heels early.
For the most part, the Pumas did exactly that in their Class 3A quarterfinal game on the CA pitch on Thursday. But with Peak to Peak's best chances being taken away in the first half by some crucial officiating decisions, the No. 2 seed Mustangs were able to withstand the initial storm on their home field.
Then, Colorado Academy showed the type of play of a two-time defending champion, netting three goals in a 9-minute stretch in the second half of what was eventually a 5-0 win to push CA to the semifinals.
With both teams coming off blowout wins in the second round, it was expected to be more of a defensive contest and even closer than a 3-0 Colorado Academy win over the Pumas during regular season play.
Peak to Peak, seeded 10th, arguably had the first real opportunity for a goal about 14 minutes in but a missed hand ball in the box — one of several obvious handling no-calls — eventually was played out with no consequence. A short time later, Ashley Buck was awarded a foul on what could have been a breakaway chance even though she maintained advantage.
"The way we played first half we had our opportunities, and I really don't like to complain about officiating but there was a huge handling call (the center official) missed in the box and it looked like he was going to call it, too," Swanson said, his team finishing the year 11-6-1. "That one-goal lead probably could have changed a lot of the attitude the rest of the way out."
Once Colorado Academy settled in with it still scoreless, the Mustangs (13-3) were dangerous in the scoring areas. Sarah Masinter connected with Olivia Allen to make it 1-0 in the 21st minute, and Anna Ponzio took advantage of her defender slipping to make it 2-0 just before halftime.
Masinter, a junior, made sure to keep the hosts in control as she started the second half with a remarkable dribble-drive and finish in the 45th minute — and the Pumas were caught pressing from there on out.
"Coming out of half, I really felt like we were right there and if we could just bring a little bit of pressure things would start going our way, but it totally went the other way on us," Swanson said. "We just ran into a freight train today and lost, but it'll motivate these girls for next year."
Both Kinzie Short and Rachel Willette had some standout saves as each played one half, and those two freshmen goalkeepers are just a couple of the many possible returners for next season.
Colorado Academy 5, Peak to Peak 0
At Colorado AcademyPeak to Peak (11-6-1) 0 0 — 0
Colorado Academy (13-3) 2 3 — 5
Goals (assists) — Colorado Academy: Olivia Allen (Sarah Masinter assist), 21st minute; Colorado Academy: Anna Ponzio (unassisted), 39th; Colorado Academy: Masinter (unassisted), 45th; Colorado Academy: Heather Kurtz (Masinter assist), 49th; Colorado Academy: Ponzio (Micah Rydberg assist), 54th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Peak to Peak: Kinzie Short (40-2-6), Rachel Willette (40-3-3); Colorado Academy: Kyra Kurtz (80-0-5).