NIWOT — Sierra Keppler plays both left midfield and left back for the Niwot girls soccer team, so the junior normally gets plenty of touches on the ball whenever the Cougars play.
On Tuesday, however, a left-to-right crosswind at Niwot High School forced both the Cougars and visiting Skyline to play nearly the entire first half on the opposite third of the field from where Keppler was in the formation. Her lack of involvement frustrated Keppler, almost to the point of feeling as though the weather had a personal agenda to freeze her out of the BoCoPreps.com area rivalry game.
But just as Keppler began to consider begging a teammate to switch sides with her, Niwot freshman Kiera Flanagan got behind the Skyline defense and played a centering ball from the endline that deflected off Falcons goalkeeper Kenna Meier and bounced right at Keppler's feet inside the box.
When an opportunity finally emerged for Keppler in a game that offered few scoring chances to either squad, she buried the ball in the back of the net in the 30th minute for what stood as the deciding goal in a 1-0 win for the Cougars.
"Kiera did all the work on her side and I just happened to be there on the back post to crash it," Keppler said. "During the club season I just play outside back so I want to learn more about the midfield and I want to score more goals this season. The wind was being difficult and the chances were slim so I was so happy when I finally got a chance."
Keppler's second goal of the season helped the Cougars (3-0) remain undefeated in March. It was a welcome tiebreaker for the normally high-scoring club, considering that a combination of challenging weather conditions and the Falcons (1-2) taking them out of the game held the Cougars to just two total shot before Keppler broke the stalemate.
"It was scrappy and Skyline definitely knows how to take us off our game," Niwot head coach Stephen Dimit said. "I thought they played a super tough game so all credit to them. It's a fun rivalry."
Having lost 4-2 to Skyline last season, the Cougars won the latest matchup in large part by limiting opportunities for Falcons leading scorer Kalen Niedling, who scored 16 goals last season and had four against Mitchell on Saturday.
"I'm proud of our girls because at least we had the right mind frame," Falcons head coach Luis Chavez said. "We were working hard, we were trying different things and we were working on possession. We struggled with our transition, unfortunately, and that made it harder for us to create opportunities for our best forward."
The Cougars will play at No. 1-ranked Windsor (1-0-1) on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Falcons will play on the road at Pomona.
Niwot 1, Skyline 0
At Niwot H.S.Skyline (1-2)00—0
Niwot (3-0) 10—1
Goals (assists) —Niwot: Sierra Keppler (Kiera Flanagan), 30th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Skyline: Kenna Meier (80-1-4); Niwot: Allie Colvin (80-0-3).