BROOMFIELD — You know you've done something special in the Class 3A girls soccer playoffs when you have made it to neutral-site play.
After earning a first round bye and hosting the past two games, the Jefferson Academy Jaguars will set their sights on All-City Stadium for Saturday's semifinals after walloping SkyView Academy 5-1 in Wednesday's quarterfinal.
It's bid No. 3 in three years for the Jaguars, and this year it's all about atoning for what the they believed was an upset last season.
"It's such a great feeling and I'm so glad we were able to do it as a team, and honestly this year the biggest thing for our team is getting redemption for losing in the final four last year," said Mira Houck, who scored two goals and added an assist in the win over the Hawks (12-5-1). "We want to get to the state finals, and we want to win it."
Jefferson Academy improved to 15-1-1 on the season by defeating a SkyView Academy team it had seen before, a victory by the same score back on April 18. In that game, the host Jaguars stepped on the gas pedal early and limited the Hawks to a single second-half tally.
This time would be a little different — "I think they were a lot more physical this time around and they have improved a lot," Houck said — but the top-seeded Jaguars were still just too tough, too possessive of the ball.
The No. 9 seed Hawks did get the game's opening goal, a turn-and-bury from Dani Fraser coming off a midfield free kick in the 9th minute, but JA responded beautifully.
Winning a lot through the air, Jefferson Academy took advantage of some short goalie kicks and clearing attempts to keep possession in their attacking half, and by the 24th minute the Jaguars had a 2-1 lead on goals from Houck and Denae Lamb.
At that point, Jefferson Academy coach Denise Sutton audibly praised her team for dictating play.
That never let up. Opening the second half with five total shots in the first 13 minutes, Jefferson Academy opened the floodgates. In the 49th minute, Michaelah Ingalls made a well-executed run at the goal to finish off a directional head pass from Houck, and then in the 53rd minute Houck benefitted greatly from a solid cross off the foot of Rachel Schlagel to make it 4-1. Schlagel finished off the scoring with a penalty kick conversion.
"They scored first and I knew it would shake our girls up a bit, but once we got the second goal it was pretty obvious that they just wanted to keep scoring," Sutton said. "They changed the momentum of the game. The beauty of this team is that it's difficult to defend all of our girls up top. We're grateful that we have the options that we do across the field rather than just one real weapon."
"Once we finally settled down, we got into our rhythm more," Houck added. "Our game is winning the ball, getting to it first. We had a lot more opportunities the more we got that going."
Jefferson Academy will play No. 5 Peak to Peak in the semifinal for the right to play next Tuesday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Jefferson Academy 5, SkyView Academy 1
At Jefferson AcademySkyView Academy (12-5-1)10—1Jefferson Academy (15-1-1)23—5
Goals (assists) —SkyView Academy: Dani Fraser (unassisted), 9th minute; Jefferson Academy: Mira Houck (unassisted), 19th; Jefferson Academy: Denae Lamb (unassisted), 24th; Jefferson Academy: Michaelah Ingalls (Mira Houck assist, 49th; Jefferson Academy: Houck (Rachel Schlagel), 53rd; Jefferson Academy: Schlagel (penalty kick), 63rd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — SkyView Academy: Ruby Schmidli (80-5-6); Jefferson Academy: Brooklynn Kirkpatrick (80-1-4).