Brad Cochi/ BoCoPreps.com
Brad Cochi / BoCoPreps.com
LAKEWOOD — Some regular-season games just aren’t regular-season games.
Unless the matchup repeats itself, which it very well may, the Dawson School girls soccer team played potentially the biggest game of its season on Thursday night at Denver Christian. It was a rematch of the past two Class 2A state championship games, which Dawson and Denver Christian split.
In the most recent meeting between two of the only three teams that have played for championship since 2A girls soccer became a thing in Colorado in 2015, the defending champion Dawson Mustangs prevailed, 2-1.
“This was huge for us because we’ve been looking forward to this game all season,” Dawson senior captain Cameron Epstein said. “We always love playing Denver Christian because we see them at states every year and it’s always a fun rematch. There’s always a lot of nerves because we’ve played them twice before at state and this might be a look at what we’ll be doing again if we make it.
“It could be a preview of what we could be facing so we have to put it all out on the field and play like it’s the final game of the season.”
In the first half, the Mustangs (6-0, 4-0) came out firing with a pair of goals by sophomore Degen Miller. Epstein assisted on both goals, and the pair of Miller (17 goals, 7 assists) and Epstein (9 goals, 5 assists) has combined for 64 of the team’s 136 points so far this spring.
Considering the quality opponent they were facing in Thursday’s 2A Region 5 contest, and the fact that Denver Christian (8-2, 2-1) freshman Taylor McNally cut the Mustangs’ lead to one with a goal in the 67th minute, Epstein said the Mustangs were thrilled to go into the midway break with a two-goal lead.
“Our thing in the first 10 minutes is always to go as hard as you can, as fast as you can,” Epstein said. “Today, we really embodied that. I don’t know when the first two goals were, but they seemed pretty quick to me. Setting the tone with those two goals was huge for us because the last 10-15 minutes felt pretty terrifying, just knowing how good a team they are. But I’m proud of the way we responded to that. We kept the pace up, we kept being aggressive and we kept pushing them, and it worked out for us.”
Still undefeated and outscoring their first six opponents 52-3, the Mustangs are in an excellent position to defend their title after passing their toughest test to date.
“We knew tonight would be a grind because we’ve had some injuries and some girls out sick,” Mustangs head coach David Criswell said. “But I’m so proud of them for grinding it out until the end. We met earlier in the day and we had a team dinner before we came down, and we told them, ‘At the end of the day no matter if we win or lose, we’ll be a better team afterwards.’ We enjoyed the experience with a beautiful night under the lights. It was our biggest test so far and I think the girls handled it well.”
The Dawson girls will host Liberty Common on Monday.
Dawson School 2, Denver Christian 1
At Denver Christian School
Dawson School 2 0 — 2
Goals —Dawson: Degen Miller 2; Denver Christian: Taylor McNally.
Assists —Dawson: Cameron Epstein 2.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Dawson: Kate Gallop (80-1-7); Denver Christian: Eden Reece (80-2-7).