ENGLEWOOD — Jefferson Academy senior Sarah Spitz had a double-take when her galloping chance in the early minutes seemingly pinballed into the back of the net Saturday afternoon.
“At first I was like, ‘wait, what?” Spitz grinned. “Then I saw it went in and we celebrated.”
This much is a little clearer: One more win and the defense of its crown is complete.
Taylor Franco added another goal in the opening half and Brooklynn Kirkpatrick was strong in net as the No. 3 Jaguars ended their fifth straight trip to the Class 3A semifinals with a 2-0 victory over No. 2 Kent Denver at Englewood High School.
The battle of 3A powers experienced another momentum surge as the teams continued to trade wins over their last six meetings. Coming in, the Sun Devils (17-2) had handed Jefferson Academy (17-1-1) its only loss of the year on April 27 — it was something of a small payback after the Jags beat them in drama-filled shootout in last year’s state finals.
The latest result punched Jefferson Academy’s ticket back into the state championship, where it’ll look to defend its 2018 title against Colorado Academy Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“It’s an interesting season we’ve had,” said Jefferson Academy coach Denise Sutton, whose team has dealt with banged-up bodies throughout the year. “But the girls have found something within themselves that makes them want to continue on, and that’s really something special.”
Spitz’s reverberating chance in the 5th minute helped wash away any lingering memory of its 1-0 loss to the Sun Devils. The senior, who was smothered by a defender in the box, took a cross from Denae Lamb, and her shot somehow found a lane to the net. The ball appeared to redirect off Kent Denver keeper Mika Fisher at the last moment.
Franco made it 2-0 in the 37th thanks to another picturesque cross from Lamb.
Then in the second half, Kirkpatrick helped tame Kent Denver’s attack. The Sun Devils hit the crossbar and had a rebound chance cleared by a defender at the goal line during their late push.
Said Jags co-coach Hannah Wilson of her team, “they’re so fierce for each other.”
Jefferson Academy will look for the program’s second title in program history against Colorado Academy. The Jags beat the Mustangs 1-0 earlier in the season, ending a five-game losing streak to the Denver school. The teams met in the 2015 state title game, which CA won 1-0.
Jefferson Academy 2, Kent Denver 0
At Englewood HS
JEFFERSON ACADEMY (17-1-1) 2 0 — 2
KENT DENVER (17-2) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) Jefferson Academy: Spitz (Lamb) 5th minute, Franco (Lamb) 37th. Kent Denver: No goals.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Jefferson Academy: Kirkpatrick (80-0-8); Kent Denver: Fisher (80-2-6).