HIGHLANDS RANCH — Iris Zhang played under the weather for Peak to Peak Friday afternoon and keeper Rachel Willette stayed in the game after a hard collision in the box.

A gritty effort for the Pumas … and it came up just shy.

Zhang scored on a 45-yard free kick and Willette denied 12 shots — neither quite enough in a 2-1 road loss to No. 6 SkyView Academy.

The Pumas (4-4, 0-4 3A Metro) looked to have a last-second chance in the final seconds after a foul just outside the box appeared to give Zhang a chance to pull things even. With the scoreboard not reset after the foul, the referee went off his time and whistled the game over before Zhang had a chance to shoot a free kick.

“High school is really strict with the clock as far as when it expires,” Pumas coach Mark Schieffer said. “He did stop the clock inside of 10 seconds … he must’ve given some verbal instructions that you can play now, and we didn’t play fast enough, so he said there’s your four seconds and they’re gone now.”

SkyView defenders were still setting up when the game was called. Schieffer thought his team could have asked the referee for the appropriate 10 yards defenders must stand away from a free kick, which could have extended the dead ball time given.

But that point is now moot. And that was that.

The Pumas continued down their brutal April schedule, falling for the fourth time in five games on a dimensionally short field in Highlands Ranch. This month for Peak to Peak has included games against the top three seeds in Class 3A —— Jefferson Academy, Colorado Academy and Kent Denver — and will continue forward with matchups against No. 7 Stargate School, No. 8 St. Mary’s Academy and 2A No. 1 Dawson very soon.

The Pumas are in the midst of nine games in 19 days.

“It’s been a tough few weeks of April but we’re still getting into form as a team and building our chemistry,” Willette said.

When Schieffer’s team has finished chances this season, more times than not it’s been Zhang on the back end of it. The junior forward scored multiple goals in three of the team’s four wins and added her 12th goal of the season on an absolute rocket finish from just inside the midfield to help Peak to Peak draw even against the Hawks (5-3-1, 4-1) in the 55th minute. She eclipsed her 11 goals from a year ago.

“We play a formation where (Zhang) is going to get the lion’s share of the opportunities,” Schieffer said. “The other girls up front are a little younger and inexperienced, and don’t necessarily play as a forward on their club teams. So, we’re trying to get more experience there.”

Kaedren Close scored the go-ahead goal in the 65th for the Hawks and stingy backline defense helped the Highlands Ranch charter school hold on. Daneca Nelsen had a chance in the 77th skirt just wide of the net. Zhang then had an open look with under 45 seconds remaining turned aside.

“We’re still putting it together,” Willette said. “And I think we’ll be able to by the end of the season.”

Brent W. New: bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com and @brentwnew


SkyView Academy 2, Peak to Peak 1

At SkyView Academy

Peak to Peak (4-4, 0-4)                  0 1  — 1

SkyView Academy (5-3-1, 4-1)    0 2  — 2

Goals (assists) — Peak to Peak: Zhang (unassisted) 55th minute; SkyView: Brown (unassisted) 53rd, K. Close (Stainbrook) 65th.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Peak to Peak: Willette (80-2-12); SkyView: Schmidli (80-1-11).