MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
COLORADO SPRINGS — Given the monumental task at hand and a disturbing beginning to the week, the Centaurus girls soccer team would have been forgiven for resting on its laurels.
This was the first Warriors squad to advance to the quarterfinals, which was an accomplishment to cherish no matter how well they did Tuesday on the home pitch of top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain.
But No. 9 Centaurus came to play and came to win, before ultimately falling in a 2-1 heartbreaker with a trip to the Class 4A semifinals at stake.
“I think it showed a lot of character that we didn’t get our heads down and we kept fighting,” Centaurus center midfielder Midori Patterson said. “I think it showed who we are as a team, especially after the events of the last couple days at school. It showed the spirit of the school as well, that people still came down to support us.”
In a well-documented story, Centaurus High was evacuated Monday after a crude explosive device was located inside the building (a 16-year-old male student was subsequently arrested). It forced the Warriors to modify their practice plans, as they were forced to go to nearby Peak to Peak.
Centaurus (10-3-3) fell behind 2-0 on a pair of goals by talented Cheyenne Mountain senior Aspen Peifer, and the Indians (15-2-1) appeared en route to closing out the win comfortably.
But Warriors junior Danelle Dondelinger scored with 14 minutes, 16 seconds to play to shave the deficit to a mere goal. After making several sterling saves — including a brilliant one-hand deflection on a high blast by freshman Jamie Turcotte moments earlier — Indians keeper Hunter Peifer whiffed on this one. It was similar to a middle infielder being in position to field a groundball but having it scoot between his legs.
“It really surprised me, but I hit it hard, so I knew it had force to it,” said Dondelinger, who perhaps took the loss the hardest. “But I guess we’ll take advantage of the opportunities we can get. … After I scored that, you could see everybody’s energy level build up.”
The problem was, Cheyenne Mountain’s energy also clearly spiked, and the spirited final minutes played out with even possession but no more goals for the Warriors.
“When we were moving together, we were doing OK, but it wasn’t throughout the game,” Centaurus coach Mario Bezzina said. “Obviously, those little pockets of disconnect let them get into the game a little bit more than we wanted them to.”
The Warriors will lose five seniors, which Dondelinger said “will be a hard hit,” but the trip to the quarterfinals helped vault the squad onto the 4A landscape of contenders.
And the Warriors can bask in the notion that they not only advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time, but also took the state’s No. 1 seed down to the wire.
“Definitely getting behind by two goals makes you get down on yourself,” said senior forward Shanlie Anderson, who will play at Northern Colorado next season and has been playing with a broken toe. “But once you get it to one, there’s that chance you can tie it and go to overtime. We had a lot of hope in that last 15 minutes.”
The Warriors fell behind 1-0 in the 18th minute, when a failed clear gave Aspen Peifer an open look inside the box, and she was able to beat Warriors keeper Kathy Tran for a touch and had an open net.
Her second goal was magnificent. Two minutes into the second half, she lofted a shot from about 35 yards out and perfectly placed it top shelf, just above a retreating Tran.
“They had a lot of numbers back, and they’re a very good team so I was trying to stretch them out a bit,” said Peifer, whose shot was into the wind and acted somewhat like a changeup. “Their goalie was a little higher, so I saw the net and thought I’d have a go at it. Happy to hit one in finally.”
Cheyenne Mountain coaches and players were livid after the game, but it had nothing to do with Centaurus or the way the game was called. Apparently, a female official was giving barbs to each of the Peifers.
The official’s daughter, Aspen Peifer said, is the No. 2 goalie behind Hunter Peifer on a club team. After Dondelinger’s goal, the official mocked the goalie for the muffed save.
In addition, Aspen Peifer received a yellow card in the first half and said the same official said “see ya” as she headed to the sideline.
“It was a conflict of interest,” Aspen Peifer said.
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Cheyenne Mountain 2, Centaurus 1
At Cheyenne Mountain H.S.
Centaurus (10-3-3) 0 1 — 1
Cheyenne Mountain (15-2-1) 1 1 — 2
Goals (assists) — Cheyenne Mountain: A. Peifer, 18th minute; Cheyenne Mountain: A. Peifer, 43rd; Centaurus: Dondelinger; 66th.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Centaurus: Tran (80-2-5). Cheyenne Mountain: H. Peifer (80-1-4).