LOUISVILLE — Most coaches cringe at the term “good loss.” No losses are good, they’ll explain.
Eric Schmidt doesn’t subscribe to that theory. The Monarch girls soccer coach believes his team has endured four or five good losses. Tuesday night absolutely was one of those, as the Coyotes fought tooth and nail against visiting Fossil Ridge, ranked No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com poll, before falling 1-0 in an evenly-matched match.
“You look at the teams we play, we play nothing but top 10 teams and we play them for 80 minutes hard,” Schmidt said. “This schedule is the hardest schedule in 5A. This is making this program better.”
Monarch (6-5-1, 5-2-1) put a bevy of quality chances on net against Fossil Ridge keeper Diana Meredith, who traded dramatic saves with Monarch goalie Kaylee Mickens in a matchup of Front Range League powers. The SaberCats (8-0-2, 6-0-1) got a rebound goal from defender Claire Parker in the 29th minute to tip the scales.
Shortly after a Fossil Ridge corner kick, Isabella Anders caromed a shot off the bottom of the crossbar and Parker pounded home the rebound.
“The way we played was amazing today,” said Mickens, who made nine saves, including two diving stops in the final minute to keep the Coyotes afloat. “We played brilliantly for 78 minutes, and then we had a little hiccup with the corner.”
Mickens endured Monarch’s 1-13 season last spring, and said this season has been a complete 180, both in regards to performance and vibe. While the return from injury of Florida-bound striker Cassie Owens has helped, things have been better across the board.
The Coyotes had a handful of prime chances, including blasts by outside back Emiko Patterson and midfielder Sarah Holland as part of a flurry with about 16 minutes to play.
It was a far cry from last season’s 5-0 loss to the SaberCats.
“We knew they were missing players last year, so we knew they were going to be better,” Fossil Ridge coach Shannon Clarke said. “All season they’ve been having strong games and results, so we were not taking them lightly one bit. Great saves on both sides. It really could have gone either way.”
The Coyotes endured losses to top-ranked Pine Creek, two to No. 4 Fairview and one to No. 6 Smoky Hill before falling to the SaberCats. Only the Pine Creek loss was decided by more than one goal.
“Every coach I’ve talked to, Shannon, Smoky, Fort Collins, is so impressed about the team we’ve created, how far we’ve come,” Schmidt said. “Everybody’s final words to me are ‘I don’t want to play you in playoffs.’ That is the biggest compliment that this team could ever receive.”
Of note, Coyotes sophomore defender Kristin Barbour was helped off the field late in the contest with what appeared to be a lower leg injury. Schmidt said it could be a bone bruise and did not immediately believe the injury will be season-ending.
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Fossil Ridge 1, Monarch 0
At Monarch HS
Fossil Ridge (8-0-2, 6-0-1) 1 0 — 1
Monarch (6-5-1, 5-2-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fossil Ridge: Claire Parker (Isabella Anders), 29th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fossil Ridge: Diana Meredith (80-0-7; Monarch: Kaylee Mickens (80-1-9).