BOULDER — Job No. 1 for Carlos Real and his coaching staff in their first season in charge of the Boulder girls program is changing the culture.

The Panthers haven't had a winning regulars season since 2013 and developing that winning mentality is of the utmost importance to both him and his girls.

Luckily for Real, it's a young group of Panthers — blended in with some experienced talent — that are on board.

And while Wednesday night's 5-1 setback to Cherry Creek at Recht Field may appear from an outsiders perspective to be lopsided, those in the Boulder camp know that the effort put forth against the Bruins shows that they are not far off.

"The first thing we are working on is getting the bal back and be hungry for it; having that mentality of always getting the ball," said Real, whose team fall to 1-1 after an opening match victory over Douglas County. "And I think it showed today, we just had a few bad breaks."

And those bad breaks were on the offensive end after Cherry Creek (3-0) jumped out to 2-0 lead in the opening on goals Elle Gill and Natalie Evans.

Within a five minutes stretch in the waning moments of the first half, both freshman Haley Hirshland and junior Alia Mentzell beat Bruins keeper Mackenzie Bryant, only to have their shots bag off the woodwork.

"Those would have tied things up and shifted the tide," Real said.


Advertisement

Cherry Creek would score the all important third goal early in the second half on Hannah Mimmack's difficult angled rip that beat Emma Perkins.

Boulder didn't quit and Mentzell finally broke the ice for the Panthers in the 60th minute when her lengthy shot deflected in off the cross-bar and in past Bruins second half keeper Mia Raben.

"We are playing with a different style now and not trying to make everything super-pretty; trying to be gritty and out-working other teams," Mentzell said. "It's been something that has been missing for a while now and people are buying in."

And it shouldn't be long before the results start to show.

"We just have to clean up some stuff in the back, but I think we can play with any team; because tonight it was our mistakes that they capitalized on," said Mentzell, a junior, who is already drawing interest from the next level. "It's within our reach, we just need to be more composed on the ball and play for each other."

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt

CHERRY CREEK 5, BOULDER 1

At Recht Field

Cherry Creek (3-0) 2 3 — 5

Boulder (1-1) 0 1 — 1

Goals (assists) — Cherry Creek: Elle Gill (unassisted), 9th minute; Natalie Evans (unassisted), 18th; Hannah Mimmack (unassisted), 44th; Boulder: Alia Mentzell (unassisted), 60th; Cherry Creek: Grace Sublette (Libby Geraghty), 63; Zoe Warren (unassisted), 75th.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Cherry Creek: Mackenzie Bryant (40-0-2), Mia Raben (40-1-4); Boulder: Emma Perkins (8-5-3).