COMMERCE CITY — For years, the Metro League has played a ceratin brand of soccer.
It doesn't matter if the match is at a school site, the moon or at Dick's Sporting Goods Park like Tuesday night for the Class 3A title game between Jefferson Academy and Kent Denver.
Everybody knows it's going to be a grind and whoever can control the midfield will usually prevail in a one-goal game.
That strategy has led to many state titles through the years, with Colorado Academy and Kent Denver and their Metro League brethren winning multiple state crowns.
One Metro League team that was long overdue, however, was Denise Sutton's Jaguars and that all changed at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Jefferson Academy claimed its first girls soccer title, first state title for the school since 2006 and just its third overall, 4-1 in penalty kicks over the Sun Devils.
"We didn't mentally prepare them, they just fought like dogs," said Sutton, who won her second title as a coach 16 years after taking Faith Christian to a title in 2002. "It's unbelievable, the way these girls worked together. There was no one outstanding player, it was a team unit that won that."
After a scoreless first half, Jefferson Academy's Rachel Schlagel and Kent's Annabelle Johnson traded second half scores 15 minutes apart to set the stage for an epic 30 minutes of overtime soccer that ratcheted up the pressure tenfold.
Jags sophomore goalie Brooklynn Kirkpatrick, who had made just one save in regulation, made the play of the game in overtime to keep the match going.
Johnson gained a step on her defender and Kirkpatrick timed her challenge just right and was able to make a sliding save.
"I saw Michaelah (Ingalls) and she took the wrong touch, but I said we are not going home right now," Kirkpatrick said. "I have made mistakes today and she has covered for me, so I'm going to cover for her.
"And I just went in there and gave it everything I had, and I got it."
If she wasn't in the game before that moment, she certainly was then and it mentally prepared her — as did goalie coach Hannah Wilson (who played on Sutton's 2002 championship team) — for the shootout.
Jefferson Academy went first in PKs and immediately put the pressure on when Kara Dobbs beat Kent Denver sophomore keeper Mika Fisher low to her left.
The first Sun Devils shot by Emma Billings was chipped high, something that caught Kirkpatrick completely off guard. "I was completely ready to make a save," she said.
Bridget Lynch banged a shot off the left post and in and then with the score 2-1, Denae Lamb scored in the same spot Dobbs did. After Riley DiGiulio missed high it set the stage for Jefferson Academy junior Mira Houck — already a two-time All-Region selection for BoCo — and she beat Fisher high to set off the celebration.
"That was an unbelievable game," a tearful Sutton said. "What a great finish to a great game."
CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
JEFFERSON ACADEMY 1 (4), KENT DENVER 1 (1)
At Dick's Sporting Goods ParkKent Denver ()0100—1 (1)Jefferson Academy ()0100—1 (4)
Goals (assists) — Jefferson Academy: Rachel Schlagel (unassisted), 45th minute; Kent Denver: Annabelle Johnson (Riley DiGiulio), 60th.
Shootout goals — Kent Denver: Johnson; Jefferson Academy: Kara Dobbs, Bridget Lynch, Denae Lamb, Mira Houck.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Kent Denver: Mika Fisher (110-1-4); Jefferson Academy: Brooklynn Kirkpatrick (110-1-3).