LAKEWOOD — When Cora Thorndike's direct kick sailed into the net, the Mead girls soccer team was cheering. A three-goal deficit was trimmed to one and there were nearly 12 minutes left.
The celebration didn't last. Thorndike's goal was waived off because it was supposed to be an indirect kick, and cheers turned to disappointment.
The 23rd-seeded Mavericks weren't able to get another goal and they fell to No. 10 Wheat Ridge, 3-1, in the first round of the 4A soccer playoffs on Wednesday.
"He called the obstruction but not the foul so obstruction is an indirect," Mead coach Shane Adler said. "If Cora puts that one in and it's 3-2 they would have worked even harder to get that equalizer."
The loss was disappointing but the progress made has given the Mavericks (10-6) hope. They lose six seniors but there is plenty of young talent on a team that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
"I'm really excited for the upcoming years," sophomore Maddie Muntz said. "Our team is only getting stronger. Yes, we're going to miss our seniors, but I think we can only get better from here."
Muntz is one of the building blocks, and she showed it with Mead's lone goal on a shot that rattled off the crossbar and both posts to make it 3-1 in the 59th minute.
"All three bars," Muntz said. "I saw an opportunity and I totally just took it."
It was also a product of hard work. The game was scoreless late in the first half after neither team capitalized on quality chances. The Farmers (11-6) broke through in the 35th minute on a shot by Kyra Midory.
Being down 1-0 at halftime was a little deflating.
"You could tell our heads were hanging but after that we picked back up and we were able to play our game," Muntz said.
Wheat Ridge got a pair of goals from Macie Browne in the 42nd and 51st minutes to build a 3-0 lead but then had to hold off the Mavericks.
"There was no quit," Adler said. "That's one thing about this team, they all have big hearts and they all work hard. They do it every day in practice. We got down 3-0 and I knew these girls would fight back.
"It's exciting for us to get back in the playoffs and now we'll work hard to get back. It's a step in the process."
Wheat Ridge 3, Mead 1
At At Lakewood Memorial FieldMead (10-6) 0 1 — 1
Wheat Ridge (11-5) 1 2 — 3
Goals (assists) —Mead: Maddie Muntz (Cora Thorndike), 59th minute. Wheat Ridge: Kyra Midori, 35th minute, Macie Browne (Rylie Pachello), 42nd minute, Browne (Pachello) 51st minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Mead: Breanna Encinas (80-3-5); Wheat Ridge: Morgan Davis (80-1-6).