Both the Boulder and Fairview girls soccer teams were very attentive to detail in Thursday’s rivalry game at FHS, particularly on defense where nothing came easy for either team.
But detail can also include extraordinary vision, and for FHS’ Savannah Beetcher that made all the difference in a 1-0 win over the Panthers to keep her team undefeated in Front Range League play.
Driving from right to left on the right wing in the 72nd minute, the window of opportunity came for the senior to beat her purple-clad opponents for the final time. A small gap between two BHS defenders gave her the confidence to fire away, and her bender of a shot went up and over the top of keeper Madi Mayfield for the game’s lone goal.
It was a hard-angle shot, the perfect placement needed in a game where both defenses were stellar.
“I just saw the defenders split slightly, and I hit it with my left (foot) and just curved it in,” Beetcher said after the Knights improved to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the FRL. “A hard angle but luckily it swerved in.
“It meant a lot, one of the biggest games we lost last year … I have a lot of friends on that team and understand what it feels like to lose. But it’s an awesome victory.”
“Our defense was great, their defense was great and it was one of those games where a great shot was going to win it,” Boulder head coach Ryan Henkel said. “That was a great shot.”
The Knights’ defense has been inpenetrable of late, as FHS logged its third consecutive 1-0 win and sixth straight win overall. The combination of Gaelyn Crowder, Pyranee Steiner and Sophie Fear evenly matched the speedy Boulder wings, and goalie Avery Tallman needed to make just three saves on the afternoon.
They’ll be going forward without one of their best, however, as Hailey Nichols was lost for the season to an ACL injury last week. Beetcher was assigned to help the back line against the Panthers, and that’s something she’ll have to get used to, too.
But once she moved up front late Thursday, Fairview coach Dan Niedringhaus sensed a change in flow.
“When we moved her forward, things started to open up a bit and that was key for us,” Niedringhaus said. “Savannah has been stepping up brilliantly (in place of Nichols), and Vicky Cassarubias did a great job for us as a sophomore stepping into the biggest game of the year.”
“Our center defenders are awesome, and they’ve been really helpful,” Beetcher said. “We’ve just been great that way.”
Boulder’s back line of Zoe Dulchinos, Mariah Alexander, Tessa Regnier and Dani Davis also shut down nearly every chance for the host Knights throughout the game. To add to that, Mayfield was active in hauling in dangerous crosses, and in the 55th minute punched out a headed ball off a corner kick that was threatening to break the scoreless tie. She finished with four saves.
The Panthers (3-2-1, 2-1-1) had some injuries up front that dictated a slight change in formation, and possession was still even for the most part. After Beetcher scored, BHS put pressure on the Knights in the offensive third, but the Fairview defense remained a fortress.
“We got battle-wounded our last game, so we had to try and change up our system to allow us to rest some of those players,” Henkel said. “After having a moment that everybody wants to forget (against Monarch), our goalie came up huge. She matched everything else (Fairview) had.
“We want to work on running across defenders a lot, and tonight we ran very straight, which is not hard to defend. We’re going to work on tweaking those things.”
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Fairview 1, Boulder 0
At Fairview HS
Boulder 0 0 — 0
Fairview 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Savannah Beetcher (unassisted), 72nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Madi Mayfield (80-1-4); Fairview: Avery Tallman (80-0-3).