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Peak to Peak's Belle Morel.
Peak to Peak’s Belle Morel.

LAFAYETTE — Whichever way it is cut, Belle Morel lived a dream season in 2012.

One of the state’s most prolific scorers was the key to unlocking Peak to Peak girls soccer’s first state title. But as much as striking the game-winner in the Class 3A state championship lingers with the senior, she knows the Pumas have their work cutout repeating the feat.

Winning a state championship is one thing, defending it is quite another.

“There is a lot more pressure on us and we have to hold up our end of the deal and be as good as last year,”‘s reigning Player of the Year said. “It’s going to be hard to top what we did, but I think we will be fine.”

Like every team that hoists the title trophy, the Pumas have gone from the hunter to the hunted. But Peak to Peak faces more challenges than just having the whole of 3A attempting to dethrone the queens of the pitch in the team’s attempt to make the finals for a third straight year.

Graduation exacted a heavy toll on the Pumas, doubly so for its attack. Four of the eight 2012 seniors were among the team’s top six scorers. But the situation hardly means Peak to Peak’ cupboard is bare when it comes to offense, not with a player such as Morel on the roster.

The senior was a force last season, notching 34 goals by the end of the year. And the Western State recruit is expected to do more in her final year of high school competition.

“She’s just one of those players that goal scoring comes intuitively to — it’s innate in Belle,” Peak to Peak coach Peter Chandler said. “But she’ll have to show patience as she figures out the new players.”

Morel is not spooked about the prospects of being a known commodity, given what the Pumas have returning in the backfield. The defense is the most seasoned unit on the team with four returning starters.

“Our defensive lineup was one of the top in the state,” Morel said. “If that stays as strong, we should be alright with offensive goals.”

Peak to Peak not only has the numbers back in the backfield, but some of its top performers from a year ago. Morel was the Pumas’ only All-State selection on the attack; the other two came on defense. And Chandler only expects defender Galen Roda and keeper Sarah Martinez to enter the season stronger this time around.

“I’m feeling really good about their potential,” he said.

Roda, also entering her final season, has been champing at the bit to get back on the pitch with the Pumas. Sampling greatness has only whetted the senior’s appetite for more.

“After tasting it I definitely want to win it again,” she said.

Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.

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