BROOMFIELD — Just three seniors started on the field for the Jefferson Academy girls soccer team when they first began training for the spring season.
By the time their run toward the Class 3A state championship came to an end on Thursday night, though, the entire Jaguars roster had grown up.
That’s what winning in the Metro League can do, and Jefferson Academy in 2014 made strides for the program it had never seen. Senior captain Ally Thimsen made sure to address that after the team’s 3-2 loss to The Classical Academy in the quarterfinal round.
“Last year we didn’t make playoffs and were not a threat at all. Teams didn’t even consider Jefferson Academy,” said Thimsen, who will continue playing for Division I Southern Utah next season. “This year, we came out, won league, played hard-fought matches the whole way. I don’t think one loss defines this team at all.
“Typically, we’re good at responding to things. Today, it just didn’t work out for us.”
The longest postseason run in program history came to an unexpected halt at the hands of the eighth-seeded Titans, who will play Kent Denver in the semifinals on Saturday. Unexpected perhaps because the teams had played earlier in the season (Jefferson Academy won 5-3) and because the first half Thursday really belonged to the host Jaguars.
Jayla Elstad gave the Jaguars a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute on a bender just inside the near post, and every time TCA threatened on the other end, Jefferson Academy’s defense quickly sealed gaps and cleared.
The Jaguars (15-3) continued to close in on defense well into the second half, but the clears in front of goalie Kassidy Hastings became problematic and the Titans (10-6-1) took advantage.
TCA scored all three goals in a 6-minute span. Mikayla Murphy tied the game at 1-1 in the 47th minute with a pooch kick over the top of Hastings, and another mistake in front opened a door for Hannah Burgo to make it 2-1 just 1:12 later. Murphy made it 3-1 in the 53rd minute following up an initial save from Hastings.
“We were in shock and got our heads down,” said Thimsen, who had 17 goals and 19 assists this season. “They are a great team, and they did what they were supposed to, put in another one when our heads were down.”
“They were able to perform with some calmness, and knock the ball around, and we had a few frantic moments that hurt us,” added coach Denise Sutton. “We didn’t send the ball out as quickly as we needed to a couple of times on defense. It came back at them pretty quickly, especially on that second goal.”
TCA’s freshman goalie, Ashlynn Register, made a couple of key stops in the second half, despite giving up a goal to Sidney Toratti with 15:58 to play that brought it back to 3-2.
Most notably, she stopped Alycia Wright cold on a breakaway in the 52nd minute, when the score was still 2-1. The Jaguars were able to put on some pressure for the final 20 minutes but could not get the equalizer.
“Last game against them, we came out strong and weren’t as good toward the end. This game, I felt like we kept up our intensity the entire time, and that was crucial,” Register said.
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The Classical Academy 3, Jefferson Academy 2
At Jefferson Academy HS
Classical Academy 0 3 — 3
Jefferson Academy 1 1 — 2
Goals (assists) — Jefferson Academy: Jayla Elstad (unassisted), 22nd minute; TCA: Mikayla Murphy (Heather Sherrill assist), 47th minute; TCA: Hannah Burgo (unassisted), 48th minute; TCA: Murphy (unassisted), 53rd minute; TCA: Sidney Toratti (unassisted), 65th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — TCA: Ashlynn Register (80-1-5); Jefferson Academy: Kassidy Hastings (80-3-5).