LAKEWOOD — Heading into Saturday night’s second-round matchup against the top seed in Class 4A girls soccer, No. 17-seeded Erie knew it had its hands full.
The Tigers (12-5) came to Denver to make a statement against D’Evelyn (13-1-2) and, despite a 3-0 loss at Lakewood Memorial Field, they did exactly that.
D’Evelyn’s Peyton Fritchie broke a 0-0 tie in the 18th minute after sending a rocket into the top left corner of the net well beyond the 18-yard box — a shot most goalies in Colorado would struggle to save.
The Tigers weren’t fazed by the goal and continued to fight as if the score was level — a clear message that the home team would have to earn a win.
Erie’s back defensive line, led by juniors Macie Fambrough and Dana Johnson, continued to deny Jaguar attackers and kept the game close well into the second half. When attackers broke through, junior keeper Zoe Hatch proved herself as a reliable last resort, finishing with 11 saves.
Senior forward Alison McNeal controlled things on the offensive end, sending clever passes to outside midfielders and creating problems for Jaguar defenders.
For 70 minutes, the scoreboard read 1-0 until two late Jaguar goals extended the deficit to three.
The final whistle signaled the end of the match and the end of the Tiger’s 12-win season, which was a considerable jump from a 9-6-1 finish last year.
McNeal wouldn’t connect in the match, but her 12 goals and eight assists throughout the year proved valuable to the Tiger’s success in her final year.
“This season we had more of an urge to win,” McNeal said. “We wanted to play for the seniors and play hard each game.”
With just five seniors on their roster, the young Tigers have exceeded many expectations throughout the final stretch of the season, including a first-round win over No. 16 seed The Classical Academy on the road. The Titans finished 8-0 in league play and proved to be a threat throughout Class 4A. After two overtime periods couldn’t decide the match, penalties did — and Erie came out on top.
While Erie’s season has come to a close, Saturday night’s effort was certainly not in vain. The Tiger team on the field in the first 70 minutes of the match is a team the classification will become familiar with in coming years.
“Each player on this team is very hard-working and very skilled,” McNeal added. “I’m very confident in what they can do next year.”
D’Evelyn 3, Erie 0
At Lakewood Memorial Field
Erie (12-5) 0 0 — 0
D’Evelyn (13-1-2) 1 2 — 3
Goals (assists) —D’Evelyn: Fritchie (Hamblen), 18th minute; Hamblen, 71st minute; Cook 73rd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Erie: Hatch (80-3-11); D’Evelyn: Hess (80-0-4).