WESTMINSTER — The whole complexion of Friday's second round Class 5A match between Heritage and Legacy at North Stadium changed within 90 seconds of the opening whistle.
Legacy coach Luke Meadows called it an "unfortunate blessing."
Lightning sophomore Kailey Maness was sprung by a beautiful pass from the midfield on a run that would take her one-on-one with Heritage goalkeeper Ashleigh Maguire. Before Maness could get into the 18-yard box she was taken out by Maguire, who was promptly shown a red card by the official — taking the Eagles down to 10 players for the rest of the match.
It wasn't always pretty for the Lightning, who looked anxious at times to bury their 27th-seeded foes, but they got the job done 3-1 and continued on their "Road to State."
"We still had to see what the game was going to bring, so we just sort of took off, throwing extra players forward and getting a little greedy," said Meadows, whose team will either travel to Mountain Vista on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. "But because we got the early goal, we didn't feel like we had to change things up."
Eleventh-seeded Legacy improves to 15-2 and Heritage, who pulled off an upset at No. 6 Fruita to get to this match, finishes 7-9-1.
The Eagles were forced to play freshman goalkeeper Tara Hoffman, and right away she was put to the test. The ensuing free kick, a laser off the foot of Gracie Armstrong was well timed and pushed over the bar.
It wouldn't take long for the Lightning to break down what was still a reeling Heritage side. Junior Randi Heaton shook off a defender, spotted the goalie, spun and flicked a shot over her protected near post to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
"We knew we had to get a goal right away because we were in their heads and their heads were down," Heaton said.
But to Heritage's credit, the Eagles found a way to move the attack forward and in the 18th minute, Julia Best equalized to make things interesting.
If only for 29 seconds.
Legacy answered right back. Armstrong went unmarked to the six and was able to finish with ease past a startled Hoffman.
Playing into the wind in the second half, Legacy managed the game wisely, controlling the ball in the midfield and not taking too many chances that might give away a down wind transition opportunity.
The Lightning made the mot of their one shot on goal in the final 40 minutes. A lengthy free kick of the right foot of Armstrong to Hoffman far post was headed home by Abby Deakin and Legacy had just a little extra insurance.
"We weren't as crisp and we weren't as smooth," Meadows said. "But we are moving on and the girls know what to expect from here."
LEGACY 3, HERITAGE 1
At North StadiumHeritage (7-9-1)10—1
Goals (assists) —Legacy: Randi Heaton (unassisted), 5th minute; Heritage: Julia Best (unassisted), 18th; Legacy: Gracie Armstrong (unassisted), 18th; Abby Deakin (Armstrong) 62nd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Heritage: Ashleigh Maguire (2-0-0), Tara Hoffman (78-3-4); Legacy: Makenna Gottschalk (62-1-2), Halle Mackiewicz (18-0-3).