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Girls soccer: Northern League jumbled after Niwot-Silver Creek tie

Silver Creek's Maddie Bertrand (left) kicks the ball ahead of the defense of Niwot's Madison Studebaker during the teams' 1-1 tie Thursday afternoon.
Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Silver Creek’s Maddie Bertrand (left) kicks the ball ahead of the defense of Niwot’s Madison Studebaker during the teams’ 1-1 tie Thursday afternoon.


NIWOT — Although it was only the third game of the season, the Silver Creek girls soccer team may have run into its turning point on March 12.

On that day, the Raptors suffered a lopsided 6-0 loss at home against Evergreen. Granted, Evergreen is a talented club that has since climbed to the top of the state poll in Class 4A, but in general Silver Creek looked like a disorganized group struggling to find a spark after the offseason knee injury to 2014 leading scorer Jenna Schemmel.

Six weeks later, not only are the Raptors sporting a more confident look, but they have battled their way into title contention in a crowded Northern League race.

On Thursday, Silver Creek got the upper hand in that conference chase over local rival Niwot, answering a late Cougars tally with one of its own to earn a 1-1 draw on the road.

“We had to make a few changes in the lineup because of players that were hurt,” Silver Creek coach Pat Monacelli said. “It was shortly after that (Evergreen) game that we started to find our stride with the scoring, and with the work up top. We’ve had only one game where we put a lot of goals in, but the work up top has been considerably better. The girls have started to adjust to a few simple formation changes, and we’ve really come together as a team.”

The result allowed Silver Creek to nudge past Niwot in the race for the three automatic state tournament berths awarded to the top Northern League finalists. The Raptors (7-4-1, 4-1-1 Northern League) remain in a battle atop the league standings alongside Thompson Valley. Longmont, with a 4-1-1 league mark, and Niwot (6-2-3, 3-1-2) are jockeying for the No. 3 position.

The result also continued the respective trends for two teams slowly moving in opposite directions. While Silver Creek has rebounded from its early doldrums to go 6-1-1 in its past eight matches, Niwot dropped to 1-1-3 in its past five.

“For a cross-town rival battle, it was great,” said Niwot coach Rob Johnson, whose club has been battling an array of nagging injuries. “This is what it’s going to be — this whole league is beating each other up. We took some games off, and now we’re paying for it. That’s the hard part.”

With both teams limiting the opposing scoring chances throughout the match, Niwot’s Sarah Sypher finally broke the stalemate in the 74th minute with a brilliant arcing shot that dropped over the head of Silver Creek goalie Kaeyla Noble. The match was the Cougars’ to win at that point, but it took only 1 minute, 17 seconds for Silver Creek to answer.

Raptors senior Lauren Martin, working for open space along the right side of the Niwot penalty box, attempted a shot at the exact moment a Cougars defender also got her foot on the ball. Unfortunately for Niwot, however, the bounce went the Raptors’ way, as the wild deflection evaded Niwot freshman goalkeeper Ali Colvin.

“This was a rivalry game, and every time these teams get together it’s this kind of game,” Monacelli said. “What I’m proud of is that when they scored with (6:51) left, that could’ve been it. I saw the girls start to get down, but they took about 20 seconds to grieve the goal, and then they got right back into it and never let down.”

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Silver Creek 1, Niwot 1

At Niwot HS

Silver Creek 1 1 0 0 — 1
Niwot 0 1 0 0 — 1

Goals (assists) — Niwot: Sarah Sypher (unassisted), 74th minute; Silver Creek: Lauren Martin (unassisted), 75th minute.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Silver Creek: Kaeyla Noble (100-1-6); Niwot: Ali Colvin (100-1-3).