DENVER — When Liv Cramer broke in alone on goalie Kami Quinn, she didn’t think — she reacted.
It turned out to be the right strategy, and now the Dawson School girls soccer team is going to the championship game after a dramatic victory in the state semifinals.
Cramer’s goal in the 75th minute gave the Mustangs a 1-0 win over Front Range Christian on Wednesday night. The No. 3 Mustangs are one win away from claiming the inaugural Class 2A title after outlasting the No. 2 Falcons in heart-stopping fashion.
“It’s amazing,” goaltender Nicole Towner said. “We haven’t gone in years. For a chance to be a part of it in the first 2A championship is amazing.”
It will take a big step to claim that first 2A title. Top-seeded Vail Mountain awaits at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday.
But after Wednesday’s win, Dawson is full of confidence. The Mustangs beat a team that had handed them a 2-1 overtime loss a few weeks ago, and it appeared Wednesday’s game was going to extra time when they cashed in.
After several close calls, Cramer put the Mustangs into the title game with 5 minutes, 37 seconds remaining. She got behind the defense and came in alone on Quinn. Quinn came out to cut down the angle but Cramer got it by her for the winner.
“I used to be a goalkeeper all my life,” Cramer said. “I knew exactly where she’s going to go.”
Instinct took over to the point where Cramer couldn’t replay the goal 10 minutes later.
“I can’t remember what happened,” she said. “It was all a blur. All I remember my teammates working their (tails) off to set me up there. All I had to do was tap it in. It’s all luck, blur of the moment, instincts.”
Cramer’s goal culminated a buildup of exciting, back-and-forth scoring chances. Before the winner Dawson’s best chance came in the 63rd minute when Hannah Isenhart came in alone on Quinn. Quinn made the save but left a rebound. However, the Mustangs couldn’t capitalize.
Less than minute later Towner made a diving save on Front Range Chrisitan’s Grace Herring, but the ball went to the side of a wide-open net. Sophie Kern put the rebound wide.
“I’ve been working on dives a lot so making that save was huge for me,” Towner said of the stop on Herring. “That rebound was almost too good. I’m glad she missed it. After that I knew I could stop anything.”
Towner had to make saves on Tori Bigandt and Kern in the first half to keep it scoreless. Isenhart had a great chance on a centering pass from Sophia Brussell in the 11th minute but couldn’t convert.
It all led up to Cramer’s goal and the Falcons tried desperately to get the equalizer in the final five minutes but couldn’t mount any serious scoring chances. One last clear by Sage Roshko and the Mustangs were on their way to the title game.
“We knew it’s going to be tough,” Mustangs coach David Martinez said. “It’s been six years for Dawson for making it to state. We’re there and we’re playing a good team.”
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Dawson 1, Front Range Christian 0
At All-City Stadium
Dawson 0 1 — 1
Front Range Christian 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Dawson: Liv Cramer, 75th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Dawson School: Nicole Towner (80-0-10); Front Range Christian: Kami Quinn (80-1-5).