Girls soccer: Fairview falls to Fossil Ridge with FRL title on the line

FORT COLLINS — It is beginning to become a theme for Fairview.

Three straight matches against Fossil Ridge … three straight 2-1 losses, including last years Class 5A state quarterfinals.

Are they in Fairview’s heads?

“No, they are not in our heads,” was the emphatic answer from Knights junior Reci Smith.

Friday night’s latest defeat to the SaberCats at Kinnard Middle School didn’t end the Knights’ season, but will serve as a reminder, if not a little bit of motivation, of how they will need to come together for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

“These girls do not like losing,” Fairview coach Dan Niedringhaus said. “They are going to come out hard next week and right into the playoffs.”

The win will all but wrap up the Front Range League for the SaberCats (10-0-2, 8-0-1), who are currently ranked No. 5 in the Class 5A soccer poll. The No. 4 Knights (11-2, 7-1) dropped to second in the league, just ahead of Legacy — whom they beat — with two games to go against Mountain Range and Horizon.

Fairview took the lead early on Emily Kaplan’s well-placed shot from a difficult angle. The sophomore forward was near the top corner of the penalty box and beat Fossil goalie Diana Meredith high and to the far post in the 20th minute.

The Knights, though, didn’t have long to enjoy.

Less than a minute later, Fossil Ridge’s senior striker Grace Cutler added to her team-leading 13 goals. A long-distance shot forced Fairview keeper Laura Hutchinson to go up high for the save and got a touch unlucky when it hit off the crossbar and back into the penalty area. As Hutchinson scrambled to her feet, Cutler raced in to tuck home the rebound.

Smith, who drew constant double-teams from the SaberCats defenders, had a chance late in the half to put her team ahead, but a hard shot from 15 yards out was handled by Meredith.

“It’s something I always expect and something I want to expect,” said Smith of the physical double-teams. “But they do a good job of defending, double-team or not.

“They never give up on the ball up top and they just put in a full 80 minute fight. Somehow they always figure out a way to put in two on us and we just hope to get them again in the playoffs.”

The decisive goal came early in the second half. Cutler got behind the Fairview defense and in a race to the ball, Hutchinson took an aggressive angle that also took out Cutler and the SaberCats were awarded a penalty kick. Hannah Bricker converted the penalty.

Fairview, which maintained nearly 70 percent of the possession time, had it’s chances but just couldn’t finish against the stingy Fossil Ridge defense. The best of those chances came in the 78th minute, when Nancy Ingham’s turn-and-fire shot just missed wide.

“I just think we were missing a piece offensively today, we couldn’t make that last link and we were depending too much on long balls,” Niedringhaus said. “We played hard, we played great. I told them ‘Hey, it’s a loss. You lost a soccer game, but you have the postseason coming up’.”

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Fossil Ridge 2, Fairview 1

At Kinnard Middle School

Fairview (11-2, 7-1) 1 0 — 1

Fossil Ridge (10-0-2, 8-0-1) 1 1 — 2

Goals (assists) — Fairview:Emily Kaplan (unassisted), 20th minute; FR:Grace Cutler (unassisted), 21st; FR: Hannah Bricker (penalty kick), 42nd.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Laura Hutchinson (80-2-3); Fossil Ridge:Diana Meredith (80-1-5).