FORT COLLINS — With a Front Range League championship no longer realistically in the cards, the Fairview girls soccer team has its sights set on sweeping the final week's worth of opponents in hopes that the Knights' RPI standing will skyrocket.
Earning the right to host as many playoff games as possible is now a primary focus, and so far the Knights, who currently sit at No. 12 in the RPI, have done little to damage that master plan.
Monday's win against Monarch was the start of a week in which each team the Knights were facing were gradually going to be better and better. Tuesday's victory at Fossil Ridge, a 1-0 grind in which Adriane Mason scored the lone goal, now gives way to Thursday's home game against Rocky Mountain.
It's a sequence of contests that are going to condition FHS for the postseason, and the Knights have risen to the occasion thus far.
"It would be terrific to get into that top eight, and we're playing for that, but it's tough with the RPI," Fairview head coach Jeff Frykholm said after his team improved to 11-2-1 on the season with Mason's goal in the 52nd minute. "You do the best you can, and yet so many things are out of your control.
"We knew coming off the Broomfield game, we looked at the schedule and thought that if we got on a little run we'd give ourselves a chance to host. Here we are, and the girls have done a terrific job."
Not only was facing the Coyotes and Sabercats in consecutive games a challenge, but having to play them on back-to-back nights did put a ton of pressure on Fairview (9-1-1 in the Front Range League).
However, after exhausting plenty of emotion against the Coyotes the night before, Fairview played strong across the board and had a solid connection working from the start on Fossil's turf. In particular, the FHS midfield was picking up possessions and allowing the forward crew to work wide.
Eventually, that opened up the middle of the field and Mason took advantage.
Scoreless through the halftime break, Fairview continued the trend of thwarting Fossil Ridge chances before anything seriously developed, and at the 52nd minute a turnover right at midfield gave Talia Hatami a chance to feed a through ball to Mason right in the dangerous part of the pitch. Mason exuded enough patience to settle the ball about 15 yards out, looked up to see where goalie Vicky Graham was positioned, and fired it to the short side to break the stalemate.
"I was proud of the way they came out, and I know it was hard to get going in this one because of the emotional game against Monarch," Frykholm said. "We had several good probing balls up to that point, and finally on that one we were able to get enough separation ... and Adriane is just a good finisher."
"I think we had a great halftime talk and the first 15 minutes after that really went well for us to get our momentum going," Mason said. "We needed to settle down, connect and be patient. I think our first half, when we were (using the width of the field), that tired (Fossil Ridge) out and we used that the second half."
Fossil Ridge, which sat 14th in the RPI prior to Tuesday, managed to push forward and mount pressure for the final 25 minutes of the game, but the Knights kept the Sabercats from formulating anything inside the 18. The best chance for the hosts came in the 77th minute, when a long lob shot off the foot of Reaghan Lang hit the crossbar above Fairview goalie Hayden Velds.
Fossil Ridge had three corner kicks in the second half and a free kick in the 58th minute that FHS managed to defend appropriately.
Mason, who also scored a goal against Monarch and now has seven for the season, knows what's on the line against the Lobos — who sat seventh in RPI as part of a loaded league representation. Thursday's game starts at 6 p.m.
"It's going to be an exciting game, and it'll be senior night for us," Mason said. "Coming off two wins already this week, we're ready for it."
Fairview 1, Fossil Ridge 0
At Fossil Ridge HSFairview (11-2-1, 9-1-1)01—1
Fossil Ridge (8-3-2, 6-3-2)00—0
Goals (assists) —Fairview: Adriane Mason (Talia Hatami assist), 52nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Hayden Velds (80-0-3); Fossil Ridge: Vicky Graham (80-1-4).