LAFAYETTE — It would have been easy for Centaurus to hang their heads after Wednesday night's 8-5 defeat to Kent Denver.
But the way coach Todd Breithaupt and his girls see, they are close ... "On a scale of 100, we are at a 95," said the Warriors boss, who praised his team's effort under the lights at Spangenberg Field.
And he should have. Centaurus dug itself an early 4-0 hole to the Sun Devils in the first half and never blinked to the team that sits atop the states questionable RPI rankings.
"Before the game I told them that the opponent we were really playing tonight was ourselves," said Breithaupt, whose team dropped to 9-3 overall and caps the season next week with three games — including a date with No. 1 ranked (different from the RPI) Colorado Academy on Monday.
"And when you come out and you don't execute as well as you should, you do dig yourself a hole, but we got out of it. We made some plays down the stretch, but the breaks just didn't go our way."
The Warriors twice closed the gap to one goal early in the second half. Back-to-back goals from Sara Casey and Delaney Pratt to start the second made it a 4-3 game and completely changed the complexion.
With 16:21 to play, Campbell Breithaupt's goal made it 5-4 and it felt like the Warriors had seized the momentum.
It stayed that way for the next 10 minutes of play, thanks in part to the effort between the pipes of Centaurus goalie Morgan Pittser. The senior, who finished with nine saves, made several big stops near the 10 minute mark that kept the deficit at just one.
"I never saw any heads drop (after the poor start) and everybody kept their heads on a swivel on defense; and on offense they were playing great team ball," said Pittser, who is a senior at Niwot. "Our draw controls tonight were great and I'm really proud of our midfield, but you can definitely see the improvement with keeping our heads up."
Kent Denver would eventually solve Pittser and scored back-to-back goals to up their lead to 7-4, one that felt almost insurmountable with four minutes to play.
Despite that, Pittser refused to play the could've, should've and would've game afterwards.
"The mental part of the game is definitely the roughest part of the game for me," she said, "And it is hard to stay positive all the way through, but after this one, I'm proud of how we played. We didn't give up, we didn't quit and it was a great team effort."
Delaney Pratt scored twice for Centaurus, which sits a comfortable 10th in the latest RPI rankings by the CHSAA. The Warriors will also have St. Mary's Academy and Air Academy on the docket next week.
KENT DENVER 8, CENTAURUS 5
At CentaurusKent Denver (9-3, 4-2)44—8
Centaurus (9-3, 3-2)14—5
Goals — Kent Denver: Madi Wifall 3, Madeleine Hunt 2, Emily Munro 2, Lauren Murray; Centaurus: Delaney Pratt 2, Sara Casey, Tasha Ragland, Campbell Breithaupt.
Assists — Kent Denver: Munro 2, Grace Lampert, Murray; Centaurus: Breithaupt, Ariana O'Brien.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Kent Denver: Gabrielle Kinney (50-5-2); Centaurus: Morgan Pittser (50-8-9).