Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT – Both Alexa Karsel and Natalie Schauer share a driving passion for soccer.
Both players, however, also attend small schools that do not have high school programs for the sport they love. That hasn’t stopped either senior from finding an opportunity to play and do so for Silver Creek, one of the top teams in the state.
Karsel, a Lyons student, and Schauer, who attends Twin Peaks, don’t just participate at Silver Creek either. They anchor a team that has been to the Class 4A semifinals in back-to-back seasons and is looking to make it three in a row.
“I love coming up to a bigger school,” Karsel said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends coming to Silver Creek to play soccer. I try to represent my school the best I can since I’m the only one from my school. I’ve played soccer with some of the girls for a long time so I kind of knew some of them.
“I’m late almost every day for practice since my school gets out later than Silver Creek. But it’s worth it for me because I love playing high school soccer.”
At Lyons, Karsel makes up for her school’s lack of soccer by kicking for the football team during the fall and also running track for the perennially-contending Lions during the spring. With Silver Creek, she has for several seasons been the top offensive threat on the side. In three prep seasons she has 110 points (45 goals, 20 assists) in 51 career games and as a junior in 2019, she was fifth in all of 4A with 61 points (25 goals, 11 assists) in 19 games.
At Twin Peaks, Schauer is the leading scorer on the Timberwolves’ basketball team during the winter. The starting goalkeeper for Silver Creek in the spring, Schauer was 10th in 4A in both saves (120) and goals against average (0.939) over the 19 games she played as a junior last season. In four postseason games, she allowed just one goal while facing 35 shots on net.
Obviously, attending one school and playing after-school sports for another poses unique challenges such as scheduling and travel. But some of those struggles have been offset for both Karsel and Schauer by the fact that they already had several friends on the Silver Creek soccer team who they had met through club soccer.
Karsel and Schauer travel a ways off the beaten path to play soccer at Silver Creek. Once they arrive there for practices and games, it’s just soccer as usual at that point.
“Class 2A is incredibly competitive and there are great players playing at that level,” Schauer said. “But the focus and the expectation at Silver Creek is to go out and play for the league and state titles.”
Like everyone else in the world waiting out the figurative holding pattern that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Karsel and Schauer are hopeful some semblance of normal life returns sooner than later. The Colorado High School Activities Association has suspended all spring activities until at least April 6.
When springs sports are reinstated — or, if they are — the Silver Creek Raptors will resume their quest to return to the state semifinals for the third straight season. Then, maybe go a win or two farther than they have the past two seasons.
“When it starts back up, we definitely lost a lot of talent from last year but every single person is ready to step up,” Schauer said. “We’ve made it to semis the last two years so we’re hoping the third time’s the charm and we make it to the state game and win it this year. I think we’re definitely ready for it.”
Especially with Karsel and Schauer back in the mix, Silver Creek head coach Rob Johnson thinks the Raptors have what it takes.
“I think our soccer IQ is even higher this year, it’s just youth,” Johnson said. “A lot of the younger players coming in are really smart, strong players. They just don’t have the experience. If we continue to work and don’t slack off, I think we have what it takes to be right back where we’ve been.”
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2019 — Grandview (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A), Denver Christian (2A)
2018 — Grandview (5A), Windsor (4A), Jefferson Academy (3A), Dawson School (2A)
2017 — Mountain Vista (5A), D’Evelyn (4A), The Academy (3A), Denver Christian (2A)
2016 — Grandview (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Kent Denver (3A), Vail Mountain (2A)
2015 — Grandview (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A), Vail Mountain (2A)
2014 — Columbine (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A)
2013 — Mountain Vista (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Peak to Peak (3A)