BROOMFIELD — Given the recent history of the Tri-Valley League in the Class 4A state playoffs, both Skyline and Holy Family were flying under the assumption that hosting a home playoff game in the first round next week would have been a bit of a stretch.
Nevertheless, a win would not only secure second place in the league but might also help in the eyes of the seeding committee when it meets on Sunday morning to lay out the brackets.
It was the host Tigers, on the strength of a Morgan Gray goal in the 24th minute, that earned the much-needed victory 1-0 over the Falcons.
Holy Family (8-6 overall, 6-1 in the Tri-Valley) will get one more chance on Thursday to improve their seeding, when it hosts Northern League champion Silver Creek in a make-up game from two weeks ago.
Skyline (8-6, 5-2) will also get a chance at Silver Creek on Friday. A result for the Falcons would not only improve their seeding but would give them city bragging rights. They have already topped Longmont and Mead this season.
Holy Family, coming off a tough 2-1 loss on Monday at Windsor, found its legs early and had the run of play from the outset.
Although the shots were few and far between, the Tigers’ possession was key and had the Skyline defense on its heels.
It wasn’t until the after the 20 minute mark that the shots started to come. Holy Family junior forward Claire Schaffer had a clean look at Falcons keeper Sariah Orocu, but her header went right into the hands of the junior goalie.
Less than two minutes later the Tigers broke through. Gray, who was dangerously close to finishing off several corners against Windsor on Monday, didn’t miss this chance. Gray muscled her way through a defender to the far post and finished with what she called a header, but was more off of her shoulder.
“I really wanted to put it in the net with my head, because it is a goal that I have had this whole season,” Gray said. “I finally got it and it is what I have been waiting for.”
But did it really go in off Gray’s head?
“It did not, but we are going to say that it did,” she joked.
It would be all the offense the Tigers would need against a Skyline side that struggled to find the same fire it had for last Friday’s city rivalry against Longmont, which produced a 3-1 win.
“We just haven’t found that intensity that we had Friday and the girls are a little tired. We are getting to the point where it has just been a hard stretch,” Falcons coach Luis Chavez said. “We are working hard but we are not finding that little extra spice that we had at Longmont.”
Gray nearly bagged her second goal of the match on a lengthy direct free kick that got pushed over the bar on a perfectly timed leap from Orocu.
It wasn’t until that moment that Skyline freshman Kalen Niedling, who was everywhere on the pitch against Longmont, started to make her impact on the game.
In the 54th minute she created a tiny bit of space at the top of the box and just fired high over Maggie Spitzer’s goal.
One minute later, with a direct free kick from 35 yards out, Niedling forced Spitzer to go up and make a save. Spitzer was only able to get a hand on the well-placed shot, but it was enough to deflect it off of her left post.
“We knew that (Niedling) was fast up top and that we would have to cover her, but that wasn’t our biggest priority, that was getting the ball in the back of the net,” said Gray, whose team avenged an early season 2-1 defeat to Skyline.
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Holy Family 1, Skyline 0
At Holy Family
Skyline (8-6, 5-2) 0 0 — 0
Holy Family (8-6, 6-1) 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Holy Family: Morgan Gray (Olivia Bartoletti), 24th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Skyline: Sariah Orocu (80-1-7); Holy Family: Maggie Spitzer (80-0-3).