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BOULDER — The Boulder girls soccer team appears to be on track to qualify for the 5A state playoffs for the first time since 2007, but the Panthers aren’t quite there yet.

With half of the Front Range League teams (six) making it to the postseason, BHS looked to be in very good shape after a 4-0 league start. But Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to fifth-ranked Fort Collins at Recht Field left the Panthers with just one win in their last six games.

And now with two contests remaining in the regular season — both on the road — Boulder (6-4-3 overall and 5-4 in league action) may need another win to finish sixth or better in the Front Range.

“We’re trying to play every game like it’s our last game to get into the playoffs,” goalkeeper Katie Simpson-Johnson said. “We really wanted this game, no doubt.”

But on Thursday night in their regular-season home finale, the Panthers couldn’t contain Fort Collins junior Katy Couperus, who scored all three of the game’s goals for her first hat trick of the season. She headed one in off a corner kick in the sixth minute, knocked a shot in from 25 yards across field with 17:36 remaining in the game, then beat Simpson-Johnson in the goal mouth with 10:17 left.

“She’s a fantastic player,” Fort Collins coach Justin Stephens said. “She stings (the ball). I don’t doubt if they were afraid of her a little bit. She creates a lot of havoc. The problem is, if you play her tight, she’s going to put a ball through for someone else that’s going to hurt you. If you lay off her, she’ll punish you by putting it into the net.”

Meanwhile, Boulder couldn’t muster enough of an attack of its own on Thursday. The Panthers put just one shot on goal in the first half, though Sarah Radzihovsky got behind the Lambkin defense once, but pushed her shot several feet wide of the goal.

In the second half, Boulder was more in attack mode, but it still couldn’t find the mark. The closest BHS came to a goal was with 14:40 left in the game, when sophomore Nola Gehring hit the right post on a turnaround shot.

“I thought we had the better of the play in the second half until we were down 2-0, then we pulled a defender and put an extra forward in,” BHS coach Gary Grammer said. “But I was proud of our girls. I thought they played an excellent game tonight, I really did.

“I thought Fort Collins (now 8-3-1, 8-1) was going to be good. They were better than I thought they’d be. I give them credit. They played an excellent game. They were a little bit better team. But I think this game will get us ready for the two next weeks.”

In its final two regular-season contests, Boulder will play at Horizon on Tuesday and at Rocky Mountain on Thursday.


Fort Collins 3, Boulder 0

At Boulder H.S.

Fort Collins (8-3-1, 8-1) 1 2 — 3

Boulder (6-4-3, 5-4) 0 0 — 0

Goals (assists) — Fort Collins: Couperus (Martin), 6th minute; Couperus (unassisted), 63rd minute; Couperus (unassisted), 70th minute.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fort Collins: Schaad 80-0-6; Boulder: Simpson-Johnson 80-3-6.

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