FORT COLLINS — It would have been fun to watch Tuesday night's Boulder versus Rocky Mountain girls soccer match in benign conditions.
It most certainly would have been a level playing field.
As it was, the blustery conditions that wreaked havoc across the Front Range also played a pivotal role in the match.
Boulder, playing downwind in the first half, had its chances against the No. 2 ranked Lobos, but couldn't convert and the Panthers knew it was going to take something special to keep them off the board in the second half.
Rocky Mountain got the lone goal of the 1-0 match when Julia Schlepp finished the rebound of Mikayla Eccher's blast off the post in the 49th minute to up its record to 9-0-1 overall and 7-0 in the Front Range League.
"The wind certainly had its effect in both the first half and in the second half. We had them pinned down in the first half and I don't think we really tested the keeper as much as we should have," said Panthers coach Carlos Real, whose team drops to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the FRL.
"We were playing a little too much (in the midfield) and we should have been a little riskier and take shots to see what would have happened. I just think we were a little too cautious in the first half."
The Panthers out-shot (on goal) Rocky Mountain 3-0 in the first 40 minutes, but none of those chance really forced the CSU-bound Gabby McDonald to work hard.
In the second half, even though the wind calmed down a bit, the pressure was still on the Panthers defensive back line quartet of Reilly Madden, Shaiyah Weissman, Sunny Pine and freshman Cara Calitre to maintain their shape and not give the Lobos any clear looks.
The goal, albeit a good one, came with a little bit of luck as well. Eccher's shot banged off of Elise Thomason-Larssen's post so hard that it came out 12 yards to the center of the box where Schlepp was able to run on to it and finish into an open goal.
"It was an unlucky break," Real said, "But it was a good shot."
In typical Boulder fashion, they were still able to create and build out of the back despite going into the wind. And the Panthers, who maybe played their best soccer of the match after the goal was scored, had their best chance in the 65th minute, when Morgan Stone ripped a hard shot just wide of McDonald's goal.
"Our DNA is to fight for every ball, we established that last year and we keep doing it every game no matter who we are playing," said Real, whose next two matches are Fort Collins and then next Tuesday at Recht Field against Broomfield. "I always tell the girls that there are 22 kids on the field and only one toy, so lets go get that toy and keep that toy.
"Kudos to my girls, because they are an impressive bunch in that sense."
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 1, BOULDER 0
At French FieldBoulder (7-3, 5-2)00—0
Rocky Mountain (9-0-1, 7-0)01—1
Goal (assist) — Rocky Mountain: Julia Schlepp (unassisted), 49th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Elise Thomason-Larssen (80-1-5); Rocky Mountain: Gabby McDonald (80-0-4).