BROOMFIELD — At this point in the season, your quality of play will take you a long way. Mix in a little bit of luck and things can be golden.
Mother Nature intervened on Saturday evening at Holy Family during their Class 4A second round match against No. 14 Green Mountain, causing a lengthy lightning delay and making the ball slick and hard to handle.
It came into play in the 36th minute, when Tigers freshman Tyler Whitlock played what looked like a harmless ball on goal from distance that Rams keeper Jayden Johnson caught, fumbled and them watch in agony as it trickled into the goal.
It was the difference in No. 3 Holy Family's 2-1 victory over the Rams that propelled them into the quarterfinals on Wednesday against No. 6 Glenwood Springs.
"I didn't think it was going to go in at all," said Whitlock, who is second on the team in goals scored with seven. "I think it had just the right spin."
After the delay, it was the visiting Rams that went on the offensive. In a run that might have appeared to be offside, it was Addisyn Hyrup that got behind the Tigers defense, lured keeper Sally Napierkowski deep out of her goal and crossed perfectly to Sydney Weathers for the opening goal.
But the Tigers didn't seem to be bothered by the deficit and amped up the possession over the next 10 minutes to push for the equalizer.
In the 28th minute, Nicolette Sandoval had her first direct free kick sail just wide of Jayden Johnson's goal. Three minutes, she didn't miss. From 20 yards out, Sandoval placed a perfect left-footed shot to upper-90 far post that ricocheted of the post an in.
"They are a resilient bunch and they have some confidence now. We had some tough games against Silver Creek and Kent (Denver), but they played well," said first year Tigers coach Michelle Griego-Giron. "We've just been building ever since and they are believing in themselves."
After Whitlock's goal, the rest was up to a stingy Holy Family defense that only allowed the Rams one shot on goal in the second half, but was also fortunate at times when Green Mountain pressed forward with extra numbers.
Freshman Sarah Uhler bailed Napierkowski out in the 71st minute by clearing a ball that was destined for the back of the net and one minute later Napierkowski came way out again with a well timed tickle that denied another Rams opportunity.
"All those tough game, the ball didn't bounce our way necessarily, but they kept fighting and they kept working," Griego-Giron said. "And it started to pay off for them."
HOLY FAMILY 2, GREEN MOUNTAIN 1
At Holy FamilyGreen Mountain (10-6-1)10—1
Holy Family (11-4-1)20—2
Goals (assists) — Green Mountain: Sydney Weathers (Addisyn Hyrup), 16th minute; Holy Family: Nicolette Sandoval (unassisted), 31st; Holy Family: Tyler Whitlock (unassisted), 36th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Green Mountain: Jayden Johnson (80-2-3); Holy Family: Sally Napierkowski (80-1-1).