GREENWOOD VILLAGE — For Kristin Barbour and the rest of the seniors on the Monarch girls soccer team, coach Eric Schmidt’s hire in 2012-13 seems decades ago.
So, too, was the 1-13 record the Coyotes had during his first season. In four short years, Monarch has become a power in the Front Range League and went on two straight playoff runs.
After winning a program-record 15 games this year, the Coyotes’ season came to an end Wednesday with a 3-0 loss to defending Class 5A champion Grandview in the state quarterfinals.
A tough foul against Monarch resulted in a Grandview goal just three minutes into the game at the Stutler Bowl, and the Coyotes just couldn’t crack the goal line despite having more shots on frame. The Coyotes will have some wounds to lick, but overall Barbour was proud of what the team accomplished this season and in her run as a player for MHS.
“It was an amazing year and these girls have worked so hard. It’s been an honor to play for Monarch and this game does not define our season,” said Barbour, a defender who will play at Villanova next year. “We had a record setting season for our school. Over the last four years we’ve built something special, and I think we can call ourselves a soccer school now.”
Barbour wasn’t the only future college player on the field Wednesday night, and the talent between the teams was pretty balanced overall. But after Nicole Lyubenko’s long free kick sailed past goalie Sophia Chen to give the Wolves (16-0-1) the lead, the Wolves were able to stack the midfield and defense and just look for the long ball the rest of the way with one forward.
Monarch possessed well and out-shot Grandview 5-4 in the first half, but most of their shots came from a distance hoping goalie Reagan McCombs would slip up.
Chen made a great save in the 26th minute after a hand ball was called just outside the box and Lyubenko tried to take advantage of a quick re-start, and that kept the score 1-0 into the break.
After midfield play dominated the opening minutes of the second half, Grandview added to its lead in the 51st minute when a crossing pass from the corner snuck under Chen and found its way to Melanie Jenkins for an open-net knock-in.
Allie Zerr sealed the game in the 77th minute off a corner kick opportunity.
“With playoffs it sometimes comes down to not making that big mistake, and that first foul in the grand scheme of things was pretty soft,” Schmidt said. “It was a great game on the field but the refs had a significant impact on how the game was played today.”
“We could not afford to fall behind early because they are such a good team with great defense,” Barbour said. “We kept to our style, they looked for the long ball a lot and I thought we countered it well.”
Grandview 3, Monarch 0
At Stutler Bowl
Goals (assists) —
Grandview: Nicole Lyubenko (unassisted), 3rd minute; Grandview: Melanie Jenkins (unassisted), 51st minute; Grandview: Allie Zerr (unassisted), 77th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —
Monarch: Sophia Chen (80-3-2); Grandview: Reagan McCombs (80-0-5).