HIGHLANDS RANCH — Before Wednesday's Class 5A quarterfinal showdown with Mountain Vista, Legacy girls soccer coach Luke Meadows told his club that it would be "a game of moments."
But unfortunately for Meadows and the 11th-seeded Lightning, almost all of those moments belonged to the third-seeded Golden Eagles.
Playing at a rare midweek, early-afternoon start time, Legacy saw it's quest for a state championship come to an end at the hands of Mountain Vista 4-1 in front of a sparse crowd at Shea Stadium.
A pair of defensive breakdowns led to the Lightning being down 2-0 midway through the first half and, despite building a little bit of momentum before the intermission, Legacy (15-3) never really threatened the Golden Eagles (15-2-1) after that.
Mountain Vista outshot the Lightning 13-3 during the game and didn't allow Legacy a shot on goal in the second half until there was less than three seconds remaining.
"They made the most of their chances early to put us in a position where we were forced to change our formation and really try to throw caution to the wind," Meadows said.
Despite being down 2-0, the Lightning was able to put the Golden Eagles back on their heels a bit late in the first half. A Mountain Vista hand ball gave Legacy a direct kick from 25 yards out, and Gracie Armstrong nestled her shot perfectly under the cross bar to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 29th minute.
But any momentum the Lightning had built dissipated at the half, as the Golden Eagles produced two quality scoring chances in the first two minutes of play after the break to retake control.
"We felt going into halftime we had a lot of the momentum," Meadows said. "We were certainly making them chase quite a bit and that they were tired, so lets go out and continue to press. And it backfired a little bit."
Mountain Vista eventually pushed it back to a two goal lead in the 49th minute following freshman forward McKenna Baillie's second score of the contest.
Savannah Mills beat a Legacy defender to the ball deep to the right of the goal and sent a pass toward the far side. A Lightning defender was in position to make a play on the ball but failed to notice Baillie charging up the field.
Baillie was able to knock the defender out of position and get to the ball first, burying it for the 3-1 lead.
"At the end of the day our game is very much about effort," Meadows said. "One girl outworked another to get to the ball on the sideline, and another girl outworked another girl when the cross is hit to sneak inside of her. But those are moments."
Meadows said the team was disappointed, not only because the loss ended their season but also because Legacy truly believed it had the talent to win a state title this season. But he said the team returns a good portion of talent next season, and the Lightning will be geared up to make another run.
"We lose seven seniors which is never easy to deal with, regardless of how much they did or didn't play," Meadows said. "But we do return the bulk of the starting lineup and a number of junior varsity girls who have state cup championship experience and a lot of girls that next year will allow us to, in my opinion, almost allow us to be even more competitive on a state level.
"It's unfortunate because we really did think we had a shot (to win state) and put ourselves in the right position, but 15-3 is nothing to hang your head over."
John Rosa: 303-473-1315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mountain Vista 4, Legacy 1
At Shea StadiumLegacy (15-3)10—1Mountain Vista (15-2-1)22—4
Goals (assists) —MV: Katie Harris (Katie Joella) 11th, McKenna Baillie 22nd, Baillie (Mills) 49th, Mills (Joella) 78th; Legacy: Armstrong 29th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Legacy: Makenna Gottschalk (80-4-9); Mountian Vista: Baileigh Baker (80-1-2).