LAFAYETTE — It's official, the Centaurus Warriors are in the mix in the Class 4A Northern League.
After two lopsided victories to open league, the Warriors tempered their expectations — as did the rest of the league — about where they really stood.
On Thursday night they made their statement loud and clear that they are going to be a contender with a 2-1 overtime victory over Niwot at Spangenberg Field.
"We were nervous about how we were going to show, but this was a good performance," said Centaurus coach Mario Bezzina, whose team improved to 6-4 overall and 3-0 inside the Northern.
Any nerves the Warriors might have had were quickly dashed.
Laura Leibfried's brilliant individual goal scoring effort — she battled her defender for over 20 yards and then beat Cougars keeper Alexandra Colvin — on a ball sent to her by Moniphon Xiong had Centaurus up 1-0 in just the fourth minute.
"We talked about having to absorb pressure and we did that very well," Bezzina said. "We stayed disciplined and when we had the chance we took it."
The Warriors knew they were going to have to be strong against a Niwot offense that has shown the propensity for scoring timely goals — just ask Silver Creek, which dropped a 2-1 decision on Tuesday to the Cougars in overtime.
It took some time but Niwot — which amped up its attack in the final third for a majority of the second half — was finally rewarded with the equalizer in the 52nd minute. Junior defender Roxie Pasma pounced on a failed clearing attempt and from 30-yards out beat Warriors keeper Faith West-Renney with a well-placed shot to the far upper post .
It would stay that way through regulation and into overtime, when the Warriors — who failed to produce a shot on goal in the second half — took advantage of their lone opportunity.
A ball sent out from deep in their defensive end made its way through the Niwot defense and onto the foot of junior Olivia Fase, who made the Cougars pay for their brief letdown.
"This really just came down to who wanted it more and we knew we just needed that perfect moment and that was it and we executed it perfectly," said Fase, who bagged her team-leading sixth goal of the season. "That was a huge win and our confidence just skyrocketed."
Said a frustrated Niwot coach Stephen Dimit: "We can't give the game to the other team in the first three minutes, that just can't happen. We have a little learning to do, but the higher you climb the harder you fall."
Niwot (5-3 overall, 2-1 Northern) will have a chance to get back to back in the win column on Saturday at home against Mead in a non-league game. Centaurus will have a big match on Tuesday at Silver Creek.
CENTAURUS 2, NIWOT 1, OT
At CentaurusNiwot (5-3, 2-1) 010—1
Centaurus (6-4, 3-0) 101—2
Goals (assists) — Centaurus: Laura Leibfried (Moniphon Xiong), 4'; Niwot: Roxie Pasma (unassisted), 52'; Centaurus: Olivia Fase (unassisted), 89'.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Alexandra Colvin (89-2-1); Centaurus: Faith West-Renney (89-1-7).