Morgan Powers quickly recalled six years ago cheering for the Dawson girls soccer team’s last championship game appearance, way back in 2009 when she was just a sixth-grader at the school.
Back then, she was just one of the many proud students hoping her much-older schoolmates would bring home a state title. In 2015, the senior is looking to have a real say in it.
“I just found a picture of me sitting in the stands and (the school) actually posted in on the school’s Facebook page,” Powers said after Monday’s practice at the school. “It’s pretty funny, but it’s awesome because as a sixth-grader I thought it would be so cool if I could do that one day. Here I am, and it couldn’t be a better way to end my high school career.
“I’ve never been so ready. The team is pumped, and it’s very exciting to be able to play on a field like Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Our entire school is excited.”
The first season of Class 2A girls soccer presented Dawson with the ideal chance to make a great postseason run, and the Mustangs responded. The weight and expectations of being ranked to begin the season never cramped their mission, and on Tuesday at 5 p.m. they’ll get the chance to play for the title.
With the leadership of a small group of seniors, Powers and goalie Nicole Towner included, and a set of skilled younger players, the 11-6 Mustangs will take a shot at 15-1 Vail Mountain at the fantastic soccer venue that is the home of the Colorado Rapids.
There’s a lot of “big” in the situation — big stadium, big stakes — but the point of emphasis ever since the Mustangs earned their way to the title game with a 1-0 shutout of Front Range Christian last Wednesday was to play down a lot of those factors.
“It’s normal to be nervous in this situation, but I feel like we’re able to calm ourselves down and say that in the end it’s just another game,” Towner said. “Yes, it’s the last game of our high school careers for a few of us, but it’s really just another one.”
If anything, the Mustangs know they have played Vail Mountain another time this season, an end-of-the-regular-season playoff tune-up that the Gore Rangers took 4-0 at the Dawson field.
While that outcome might illicit some intimidation, Dawson played that game without two of its stars as Powers and Liv Cramer were not available. The Mustangs clearly moved on, too, because they have yet to allow a goal in the playoffs, beating Rocky Mountain Lutheran 4-0 in addition to the 1-0 win over the Falcons.
It took 75 minutes for Cramer to get the lone goal on the board in the semifinals, and Powers said one thing the Mustangs will hope for is getting an early lead and forcing Vail Mountain to alter its style.
“We know we have to score early against a team like that, and give it everything we’ve got,” Powers said. “We have to have fun and play with a lot of energy.”
“(Vail Mountain) might change a few things, but we know what they look like and who’s fast, and we feel like we’re ready to face them again,” Towner said. “We were given a second chance against Front Range Christian, and we’re being given a second chance against Vail Mountain. We’re hoping to make the best out of that.”
CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
(3) Dawson School vs. (1) Vail Mountain
When: Tuesday, 5 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Records: Dawson School 11-6; Vail Mountain 15-1.
Notes: The smaller classification introduced this school year has opened the door for a first state girls soccer title for either of these schools, with Vail Mountain a first-timer in the title game … The Gore Rangers have never won a girls team title in any sport according to CHSAA records … Both teams are coming off 1-0 semifinal wins. Vail Mountain ousted Denver Christian on the strength of a Tess Johnson goal, while freshman Liv Cramer’s 13th goal of the season was the difference for Dawson against Front Range Christian … Vail Mountain’s 15-1 record includes wins over 3A teams Aspen and Coal Ridge, but top-to-bottom the Gore Rangers play in a weaker Western Slope league … Dawson’s win over Front Range Christian was its signature victory to this point … Cramer, Morgan Powers, Hannah Isenhart and Sophie Brussell have combined for the five playoff goals for Dawson. Meanwhile Nicole Towner has made 13 saves in the two wins, including 10 stops against Front Range.
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