Brad Cochi/ BoCoPreps.com
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
The girls soccer teams at Jefferson Academy and Dawson are rolling through their regular season schedules and now find themselves in the same spot as they were at the end of last spring.
The Jaguars and Mustangs, the defending state champions in the 3A and 2A classifications, have nicely managed the pressure that comes along with the top billing. Through three weeks in April, the teams were undefeated and came into this week as the top ranks in both the 2A and 3A RPI standings and the classification rankings on CHSAANow.com.
“Teams want to perform well against the state champs,” JA coach Denise Sutton said. “They show up with their best game and we have to play our best game.”
Sutton’s group has been spectacular in allowing just one goal to 3A competition through the opening seven weeks of the season. Perhaps, most impressive was their 1-0 win at No. 2 Colorado Academy on April 9 when Kristen Capan scored the game-winning goal in the second half.
Its success, however, has come with a toll of banged-up bodies.
“It’s been a physical season,” she said.
Nothing less should be expected in the final two weeks with a massive test awaiting them Saturday when it hosts Kent Denver in a rematch of the 2018 state title game.
“There’s a lot of games to be played and we have to stay in this mentally,” Sutton said. “We can’t look past any team. It’s not just us and Kent Denver, all of the Metro League is competitive. And you can’t really take a breath.”
Dawson’s six-game winning streak to start the year ended Monday in a 5-1 loss to 3A Liberty Common. On the positive side, the tough defeat may potentially have greater long-term rewards.
“We love having Liberty Common and some of the stronger 3A teams on the schedule, particularly in the second half of the schedule to help sharpen things up and prep us for the postseason,” Dawson coach David Criswell said.
Before the blemish, the Mustangs outscored teams 50-1 through their first six games and didn’t allow their first goal of the year until an April 18 win against Denver Christian, the team it beat in last year’s 2A state title game.
Degen Miller scored both goals in that 2-1 victory over the Thunder and led the team with 17 goals and seven assists through the first six games.
The sophomore has returned to form — and maybe then some — after her dazzling freshman campaign was prematurely ended by injury in the eighth game of the 2018 season. Her career totals through her first 14 games was 42 goals and 14 assists.
“She’s shown she can score in the games that are a little bit more one-sided but has also shown she’s a big-game player,” Criswell said. “She is an impact player whether she’s putting herself in scoring position or providing opportunities for other players.”
Elsewhere, Prospect Ridge Academy climbed into fifth in the state 3A rankings, thanks to a dramatic 2019 turnaround under first-year coach Rod Muir. The Miners, after winning just six games in 2017 and five in 2018, won seven of 10 to start the year. Their losses came to No. 1 Jefferson Academy, No. 2 Colorado Academy and No. 7 Stargate School.
Peak to Peak, at .500 through its first eight games of the season, sits inside the top 15 in the 3A RPI standings. Iris Zhang has been of the best finishers in the classification with 12 goals through eight games.
The regular season for girls soccer officially ends May 4. State pairings will be announced on May 6.
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew