BROOMFIELD — There was a bit of surprise, albeit pleasant, when Jefferson Academy girls soccer players and coaches heard they were the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A postseason bracket.
At 13-2 entering playoffs, they deserved the spot, but it still brought a different set of feelings into the mix when the postseason began on Friday.
So far, so good, however.
After sending Cornerstone Christian home early with a 10-0 win on Friday, the Jaguars wasted no time getting on the board Saturday against Liberty Common, scoring twice in the first 5 minutes and expanding that lead in the second half for a 5-1 second round victory.
With just three seniors, it could be expected the nerves would be a little high early on for the youthful Jags. But make no mistake, there’s a lot of experience even among the freshmen on this team, and they showed it with some explosive play the first two rounds at the JA soccer field.
“We were really happy (to be No. 1), but we didn’t want to get overconfident,” said junior Alycia Wright after Saturday’s win, setting them up for a quarterfinal game at home on Wednesday. “Teams are going twice as hard to try and beat us. We just had to stay confident in what we had, and so far this season we’ve been working really hard.”
“The girls are coming to a great place right now, they’re showing great teamwork and they are focused,” said coach Denise Sutton. “There is pressure there, and I think they are handling it well.”
As Liberty Common can attest, the forward core for Jefferson Academy is dangerous, and they struck quickly and with creativity on their runs. Two minutes and 18 seconds had ticked off the clock when Wright scored the first of her two goals, and she assisted on the next goal that was finished by Heidi Wendt. That combination would turn out to be lethal the entirety of the contest.
Wendt added two more goals for the hat trick in the second half, finishing the feat with a perfectly timed header that was in the net in a flash with just 11:53 remaining.
Liberty Common (10-5-1) dropped its forces back to try and eliminate the runs the Jags got early, but Jefferson Academy just became more possessive of the ball in return. They also attacked the balls that were in the air, and the Eagles could not settle it very often.
Only late did the Eagles avoid the shutout on a perfect top shelf shot by Kayla Rhoads.
“Making those first two goals, that just pumped up our team even more and got us wanting to score more goals,” Wright said. “It helped us a lot.”
The Jaguars now enter uncharted waters, having made the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. They’ll play either The Classical Academy or Manitou Springs in the next round, both teams whom JA defeated during the season.
“Once you get to the Elite Eight, it can be anybody,” Sutton said. “We just have to keep playing hard and … we won’t take anyone for granted.”
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Jefferson Academy 5, Liberty Common 1
At Jefferson Academy HS
Liberty Common 0 1 — 1
Jefferson Academy 2 3 — 5
Goals (assists) — Jefferson Academy: Alycia Wright (Heidi Wendt), 3rd minute; Jefferson Academy: Wendt (Wright), 5th minute; Jefferson Academy: Wright (Jayla Elstad), 49th minute; Jefferson Academy: Wendt (unassisted), 56th minute; Jefferson Academy: Wendt (Wright), 69th minute; Liberty Common: Rhoads (unassisted), 75th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Liberty Common: Archer (80-5-7); Jefferson Academy: Kassidy Hastings (80-1-7).