LAKEWOOD — It usually takes an adjustment period for a team to get used to a new coaching staff.
But in its first year under head coach Stephen Dimit, the Niwot girls soccer team clicked with its new leadership almost right away and hit the ground running in 2017. The 12-win campaign in Dimit's first year at the helm ended on Saturday with a 3-0 lost to No. 2 Wheat Ridge in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.
If the 2017 season is any indication of future success, the Cougars could be in good shape for a while.
"We had a new coach this year and he's an incredible coach," Cougars senior Kailee Stobbe said. "We had a lot of changes this year, a lot of regrouping and relearning, but we did a great job. All of the girls had open minds and respected him, and each other, right away. Without respect, you can't build anything. We came in strong and it was a great season."
The Cougars (12-5) won the Northern League championship and also won their first playoff game since 2014. As the No. 15 seed in the state tournament, the Cougars' run ended against a quality club in Wheat Ridge (15-2).
Still a little fatigued from a double-overtime victory over Erie in the first round on Wednesday, the Cougars struggled to get much offense going against the solid Wheat Ridge defense.
"It didn't feel like a 3-0 game, but I think both teams were a little slow today in the heat," Stobbe said. "It was hard for us to find our pace, because we're used to fast soccer. We were a little tired still but we didn't give up any hope in that overtime game and we never gave up hope today."
Wheat Ridge's Courtney Nelson scored the game's first goal in the 28th minute and Rylie Pachello headed in a far-post corner kick from teammate Melissa Brown in the 34th minute. Increasing the home team's lead to 3-0, Molly Kratzer scored the game final goal in the 52nd minute
"I thought we played hard," Dimit said. "But in the playoffs, you have to defend everything super sharply. I felt like we were a little loose in our marking and sometimes in the playoffs, that's the difference. We faced some adversity being two goals down to a good club who has been here before, but battling has been our identity and we battled today."
Stobbe was the Cougars' most threatening offensive player on Saturday and Cougars goalkeeper Alexandra Colvin made six saves in the game.
Wheat Ridge will face No. 7 Evergreen in the state quarterfinals on May 17.
Wheat Ridge 3, Niwot 0
At Lakewood Memorial FieldNiwot 00—0Wheat Ridge 21—3
Goals (assists) —Wheat Ridge: Courtney Nelson, 28th minute; Rylie Pachello (Melissa Brown), 34th; Molly Kratzer, 52nd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Alexandra Colvin (80-3-6); Wheat Ridge: Logan Duford (80-0-5).