Familiarity may breed contempt, but in the case of the Fairview and Cherry Creek girls soccer teams it produces tight, defensive games.
Last year’s 5A state finalists met for the second time this year on Saturday at FHS, and the result was almost predictable: a scoreless tie in a game where both teams combined for six shots on goal.
Fairview had already exacted revenge for a 1-0 state championship loss with a 1-0 victory in the Arapahoe Tournament in the teams’ second game of 2013.
“The girls needed that one, that was huge,” Knights coach Dan Niedringhaus said of the March 15 win. “This was just a good, hard-nosed soccer game.”
The teams have met in three of Fairview’s last nine games and three of 10 for Cherry Creek, and scored a total of two goals. They also played early in the 2012 season, a 1-1 tie.
“Both teams are really good on defense and in the midfield,” said Bruins coach Dave Paynter. “Every time we’ve played them they’ve been really good, controlled games. It’s just a matter of somebody making a mistake up front. We made one and they almost scored, and they made one and we almost scored.”
Defense is the name of the game for Fairview (6-1-1), which has allowed three goals — two on penalty kicks — in eight games behind freshman goalkeeper Avery Tallman. Cherry Creek, which had won four straight and scored nine goals in its last three games, managed just four shots on goal, none of which severely challenged Tallman.
The Bruins did force Tallman a good distance from the goal area to deny potential game-winning shots three times in the two overtimes.
“That’s her strength, she’s brilliant off the line,” Niedringhaus said of Tallman. “She’s a freshman and plays like a senior. That’s what you want out of your goalie. She shuts her brain off. That’s a unique attribute for a goalie.”
Fairview was coming off a 4-0 win over Poudre on Thursday, but had trouble finishing scoring opportunities. It didn’t help that Kenzie Whitcomb, a captain who scored the lone goal against Cherry Creek in March, was visiting the Wake Forest University campus in Winston-Salem, N.C. “That hurt our offense and it hurt not having a captain,” Niedringhaus said. “It didn’t help, but she’s got to do what she’s got to do.”
The Knights missed a good scoring chance early in the game when Emily Kaplan sent a shot wide from the left side after a feed by Savanah Beetcher. Fairview controlled the ball for most of the final 20 minutes of the first half but couldn’t muster a shot on goal. Lilian Bitner had both shots on goal for Fairview, one in the first six minutes and another on a free kick from the far left side in the first overtime.
“We played them more fluidly in the first game and it came back to bite them, I think,” Niedringhaus said. “We kept trying to dribble inside and they packed 6-7 girls in the middle and there’s no way you can dribble through that. We kept our shape today, I think our fitness is pretty evident. We played real aggressively, we just need to find the back of the net. We have to shoot more, and we just didn’t shoot.”
Paynter, who fulfilled a promise to his team by getting a tattoo of a soccer ball and a bruin with the inscription Cherry Creek Soccer on his right shoulder after the state-championship victory, credited the defenses for stifling the offenses.
“I think it’s more good defense because both teams have really good kids up front, too,” he said. “And both teams are patient. They try to build up and get something going.”
Fairview 0, Cherry Creek 0
At Fairview H.S.
Cherry Creek (6-2-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Fairview (6-1-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —Cherry Creek: Alex Kahalley (90-0-2). Fairview: Avery Tallman (90-0-4).