WESTMINSTER — The Legacy girls soccer team is good.
They know it and those around the state know it too, as witnessed by their No. 8 ranking in the CHSAANow.com preseason Class 5A poll.
With that comes expectations and being able to bring the same high level on a nightly basis — even against a lesser opponent — is tough.
Playing its second game in as many nights, the Lightning just weren’t as sharp against rival Mountain Range as it had been in its first three games that saw them out-score the opposition 10-0.
When the final whistle sounded at North Stadium, the Lightning (4-0 overall, 2-0 Front Range League) knew it wasn’t its best effort, but it was still good enough for a 2-1 victory over the Mustangs (0-3, 0-1).
“We really have high expectations for this season,” said junior Kailey Maness, whose 72nd minute goal was the difference. “I think we worked really hard, but some of the things we need to work on are communicating and organization.
“But in the end, we are happy to walk away with a win.”
Legacy, which controlled well over 75 percent of the possession, got things going in the 20th minute, when Gracie Armstrong beat Mustangs freshman keeper Analysse Falanga from the top of the box.
From that point on until the end of the first half, the best chances came for the visiting Mustangs in transition.
Bailey Brown sent a shot just wide and Karly Bohan hit a rocket off the bar above Makenna Gottschalk.
It all led up to the first goal of the season against Lightning at the buzzer. Hannah Hopkins finished a flurry in front to equalize for the Mustangs, who were content to pack it in on defense and make the Lightning work for every chance they got.
“The question in the pregame was ‘Can we outwork them and not out-soccer them?’, which is two very different things,” Legacy coach Luke Meadows said. “When you defend that long, it’s hard to keep up the work rate and to their credit, they worked their tales off.”
Legacy kept grinding in the second half and it eventually paid off with under 10 minutes to go.
It appeared the Lightning had taken the lead in the 71st minute, when Nora Spuler’s shot deflected off the bar and clearly crossed the line but it wasn’t relayed to the center official who told them to play on.
With Spuler still pleading her case to the side official, the Lightning built up another run and Makayla Merlo’s cross was spot-on to Maness, who finished with ease.
“To go and get the actual winner and have it hit the net, so there was no dispute,” Meadows said. “Karma.”
The Lightning are off until Monday, when the host Brighton in a nonleague game at North Stadium.
LEGACY 2, MOUNTAIN RANGE 1
At North Stadium
Mountain Range (0-3, 0-1) 1 0 — 1
Legacy (4-0, 2-0) 1 1 — 2
Goals (assists) — Legacy: Gracie Armstrong (unassisted), 20th minute; Mountain Range: Hannah Hopkins (unassisted) 40th; Legacy: Kailey Maness (Makayla Merlo), 72nd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Mountain Range: Analysse Falanga (80-2-8); Legacy: Makenna Gottschalk (80-1-1).