WINDSOR — Earlier this week, Niwot girls soccer coach Jeremy Drake was brimming with confidence over his club’s prospects in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, even though the Cougars received a less-than-stirring seed at No. 22.
On Tuesday, the upstart Cougars played with every ounce of the confidence expressed by their coach, scoring a pair of second-half goals to post a 2-1 victory at 11th-seeded Windsor in the first round of the Class 4A tournament.
Niwot broke open a scoreless tie with goals by Kimi Bourland and Shannon Fischer before watching senior goalie Kim Schoep make several stellar saves — including one inadvertently with her face — to preserve the Cougars’ late one-goal lead.
Niwot (9-5-2) will visit sixth-seeded Pueblo South for a second-round match on Friday.
“They came out with some fire and they played with it for all 80 minutes. They battled,” Drake said. “Windsor was a strong team, and we knew we needed to have our A-game. They brought that today. It’s great to have them playing well like that and playing together. When they do that, they win.”
The teams were mired in a scoreless draw when Bourland, a junior defender, took advantage of what might have been a fortuitous call for the Cougars.
With both squads battling for possession along the right sideline, Niwot was awarded a throw-in when it appeared a Cougars player had touched the ball last. While retaining possession, Bourland launched a majestic long-range bomb from deep along the right wing that arced over Windsor goalie Maggie Griggs and into the far corner of the net.
“It was supposed to be a cross, but I kind of had my eye on the back post,” Bourland said. “It was one of those where you knew it was going in after you hit it. But it was meant to be a cross. That got the momentum going and it brought everyone’s spirits up.”
Niwot padded its lead about 12 minutes later when Shannon Fischer powered home a rebound of a Maria Fayeulle shot that remained loose on the goal line after deflecting directly downward off the crossbar.
Windsor (12-3-1) drew within 2-1 about 5 minutes later on an unassisted goal by Bailey Zehr, but Schoep came up big throughout the second half to keep the Wizards from pulling even.
While the Cougars held their 1-0 lead, Schoep made a charging save of a one-on-one chance from Windsor’s leading scorer Kelsey Steffens. An attempt at clearing the rebound by the Niwot defense resulted in a rapid-fire deflection off Schoep’s face, but her battered visage didn’t keep Schoep from making a few more timely saves.
Windsor enjoyed its best chance at notching an equalizer with about 12 minutes remaining, but Schoep was able to make just enough contact on a diving save of a Bre Robertson chance to deflect the shot off post.
“My mindset is to just get that ball out of the box no matter what, even if I have to sacrifice my face,” Schoep said. “I really try to keep the game in front of me and keep as composed as possible. My face was numb for a good 5 minutes, but that’s OK. It worked out all right.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07
Niwot 2, Windsor 1
At Windsor H.S.
Niwot (9-5-2) 0 2 — 2
Windsor (12-3-1) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Kimi Bourland, 45th minute; Shannon Fischer, 58th minute. Windsor: Bailey Zehr, 63rd minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Kim Schoep (80-1-4); Windsor: Maggie Griggs (80-2-4).