LONGMONT — A disappointing 2017 campaign in which the Silver Creek girls soccer team failed to reach the playoffs despite its obvious talent was all the motivation the Raptors needed to get dialed in for the spring of 2018.
Redemption may have been a powerful enough motivator on its own but the Raptors were also ramping up for the 10-year anniversary of the program's 2008 state championship. That combination spurred an unbeaten run to Wednesday's Class 4A state quarterfinals, in which the Raptors had to tap even deeper into their desire to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory over Littleton.
The reward for the Raptors' grit will be the team's first state semifinals appearance since its championship season.
"I remember before the first game of the season against Skyline we were like, 'Guys, this is the 10-year anniversary of state. How bad do we want it?'" Raptors goalkeeper Kaeyla Noble said. "Before today's game, we were seeing all these tweets go out about all the history and we were so jacked up for it because it's history and we're a part of that, and that's incredible. I honestly could barely breathe in warm-ups because of the physical excitement and the emotional excitement and it feels great to win because it symbolizes all the hard work we've put in."
The No. 5-seeded Raptors' excitement manifested in a fifth-minute goal from junior Kate Eggen that gave the Raptors (16-0-2) an early lead against a surprising Littleton (10-6-2) club that reached the quarterfinals as the No. 13 overall seed. The Raptors' one-goal lead held until Littleton's Anna Newby tied the game in the 63rd minute.
Silver Creek junior Colleen Tyrrell provided a quick response in the form of a 68th-minute header goal on a corner kick that put the Raptors back in the lead. With time running out, a Raptors defense that had allowed just six goals before Wednesday lost track of Littleton's Jasmyn Thompson Harvey and the sophomore scored with 30 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Having already made up her mind that the Raptors' run wouldn't end on Wednesday, Tyrrell authored another critical score with her team's aspirations hanging in the balance. Taking a free kick from 35 yards out in the 86th minute, Tyrrell drove the ball deep into the Littleton box. The ball deflected off a Littleton defender and found the back of the net to end the game.
"We try not to look past anything or too much into anything and just play like we have all season," Tyrrell said of how the Raptors handled the pressure in overtime. "It was really exciting and winning those close games is just what you have to do. For me, I've been getting beat up the last couple games so it was really hard to me today. But once they got that first goal, I decided that I was going to do whatever I could to go and make things happen. And it happened."
Silver Creek will play a No. 1 Windsor (17-0-1) in the semifinals on Saturday. Both teams remain unbeaten this season and Silver Creek accounts for the only blemish on Windsor's otherwise perfect record, a 2-2 draw from back on March 20 during the regular season.
Silver Creek 3, Littleton 2 (OT)
At Silver Creek H.S.Littleton (10-6-2) 0 2 0 — 2
Silver Creek (16-0-2) 1 1 1 — 3
Goals —Littleton: Anna Newby, 63rd minute; Jasmyn Thompson Harvey, 80th; Silver Creek: Kate Eggen, 5th minute; Colleen Tyrrell, 68th; Littleton own goal, 86th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Littleton: Lily Jensen (86-3-8); Silver Creek: Kaeyla Noble (86-2-7).