LAFAYETTE — Although the Jefferson Academy girls soccer team may still be chasing Kent Denver in the recent Class 3A soccer rankings, the Jaguars on Tuesday did learn that they had gained the top spot in the first spring release of the ratings percentage index used to seed playoff teams.
Being situated in the Metro League, though, virtually every regular season game is playoff-intense from here on out for Denise Sutton's Jaguars. The league slate began on Tuesday with a contest against Peak to Peak — a game that represented the return to action off spring break for both ranked teams.
The Jaguars had a little bit more left in the tank at Peak to Peak's field on this night, using a pair corner-kick conversions in the final 12 minutes of play to seize a 2-0 win and move to 5-0-1 on the season.
It was downright cold with a stiff breeze sweeping across the field, but JA was pretty hot in terms of controlling the game, and it finally paid off with goals from Lily Thimsen and Maggie Hirsch in the 69th and 73rd minute, respectively.
"We know that Peak to Peak has a great soccer program, so we knew we had to step up to that challenge and stay composed (Tuesday)," said Thimsen, who crashed the box to finish a scramble in front and net her first goal of the year. "We played really good together. Every game, we just go in thinking that it's a new game with a new start. We just are trying to start out fresh every time and play the best we can."
"It was just capitalizing on opportunities, and we are a team that has to be efficient at that ... on the corners, we were finally about to put in a couple," said Sutton, whose team has already defeated three ranked opponents. "Coming off of spring break, trying to get in a groove, and (Peak to Peak) is a good team. We stuck it out tonight, and we're just hanging in there right now."
Early on, it was Peak to Peak that was hanging on for dear life. The pressure from the Jaguars came strong from the outset, and it resulted in 19 Jaguars corner kick chances throughout the game. However, for the first 65 minutes, the Pumas (3-2 overall, 1-1 league) were sturdy when in the cooker.
Peak to Peak goalie Rachel Willette made several solid stops in the onslaught, and the beginning portion of the second half saw the field open up a little bit for the Pumas as they had fought to remain at 0-0 through the first 40 minutes of play.
But the final 20 minutes saw another shift in momentum back to JA, and with slightly more than 11 minutes to go, Rachel Schlagel's set-up to the short side fell into a circle of about five girls — with Thimsen managing to poke the ball home. The goal finished a sequence of three consecutive corner kicks.
"Coach always talks about how on corner kicks or free kicks they should be at least three chances for us, so if you don't get on that first or second one you still need to work for a third," Thimsen said. "You need to work hard for three (chances) and I think we definitely did."
Hirsch's goal off Michaelah Ingalls's set-up was the prototypical sweep-of-the-foot one-timer, giving the Jaguars a needed two-goal cushion. It was something the team hadn't seen in three games, and it stood up because of the defensive effort.
"I thought our defense played pretty well," Sutton said. "We really want to pressure them hard in the middle and just not let them get possession. Keep it off their feet and that helps you not have to be on the recovery side of things."
Peak to Peak had just a few real good chances, the best of which was a 20-yard free kick off the foot of Emma Shepherd in the 57th minute. After snapping a three-game winning streak, the task doesn't get any easier for the Pumas as they travel to play Kent Denver on Thursday.
Jefferson Academy 2, Peak to Peak 0
At Peak to Peak Charter SchoolJefferson Academy (5-0-1, 1-0)02—2
Peak to Peak (3-2, 1-1)00—0
Goals (assists) — Jefferson Academy: Lily Thimsen (Rachel Schlagel assist), 69th; Jefferson Academy: Maggie Hirsch (Michaelah Ingalls), 73rd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Jefferson Academy: Brooklynn Kirkpatrick (80-0-3); Peak to Peak: Rachel Willette (80-2-10).