Girls soccer: Fairview showcases balance in win against Horizon

BOULDER — After a sluggish start to the season against a formidable early slate, the offense of the Fairview girls soccer team finally is emerging from hibernation.

The Knights put together their second consecutive four-goal effort on Tuesday, netting goals from four different players as host Fairview posted a 4-1 victory against Horizon in a Front Range League match. Fairview (3-3-1, 2-1-0 Front Range League) managed just five goals through its first five games but has erupted while recording consecutive wins for the first time this season.

“We’ve definitely been focusing on finishing more,” said Fairview senior Olivia Fear, who provided the go-ahead goal late in the first half. “That’s been our main goal. The first couple games we just couldn’t put it away, and at practice that has been our main focus. It looks like it paid off.”

Although the Knights struggled offensively out of the gate, they cannot be accused of skimping on the difficulty of their schedule. During its first five games Fairview faced three clubs currently ranked in the top 10 in Class 5A — No. 2 Cherry Creek, No. 7 Heritage, and No. 8 Fort Collins — in addition to defending 5A state runner-up Dakota Ridge.

While Fairview took its lumps, going 1-3-1 during that stretch, the tough competition clearly has steeled the Knights for league play. Six different players have scored goals during Fairview’s two-game outburst, and on Tuesday the Knights’ defense allowed only three shots on goal while holding Horizon (3-4, 2-2) without a corner kick.

“It’s starting to come together,” Fairview coach Jeremy Pinard said. “As we get more games under our belt, we’ve been able to play better offensively. I think that (balance) will be the way it’s going to be this season.

“We have a lot of people who can score. We have a lot of people who can get behind the defense. We’ll have a lot of multiple-scorers. I don’t think we’ll have anyone scoring 15 goals, but we’ll have many people scoring six, seven, or eight goals.”

Fairview struck first as junior Lillian Bitner got her head on a free kick from Kenzie Whitcomb in the 22nd minute. Horizon answered when Jessica Phillips fired a point-blank shot against Knights goalkeeper Rachel DeCurnou in the 30th minute. DeCurnou made an impressive save, but suffered an unfortunate bounce when the rebound landed at Phillips’ feet in front of an open net.

Fear, however, recaptured the lead for the Knights on an unassisted blast from 30 yards out with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the half. Fairview’s defense grew even stingier after the break, while goals by Daphnee Morency and Nikola Machalek, off Whitcomb’s second assist, iced the win for the Knights.

“During spring break, we worked a lot on offense as opposed to defense, because we usually have the mentality that defense wins championships,” said Morency, who has produced a goal in each of the past two games. “I think that helped get our confidence up because we hadn’t been practicing that too much. Our team is kind of spread out with young and old players, so it’s good to get everyone on the scoreboard.”

Fairview will be challenged with a quick turnaround, as the Knights host Loveland on Wednesday.

Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07

Fairview 4, Horizon 1

At Fairview H.S.

Horizon (3-4, 2-2) 1 0 — 1

Fairview (3-3-1, 2-1) 2 2 — 4

Goals (assists) — Horizon: Phillips, 30th minute. Fairview: Bitner (Whitcomb), 22nd minute; O. Fear, 37th minute; Morency, 44th minute; Machalek (Whitcomb), 78th minute.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Horizon: LaBadie (80-4-8). Fairview: DeCurnou (80-1-2).