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Dynamic dynasties: Peak to Peak captures magic in girls soccer

Electric Morel led Pumas to back-to-back 3A titles in 2012 and 2013


Shuffling through stacks of memories, Belle Morel relives the moments that fueled her transcendent soccer career and brought back-to-back state titles to Peak to Peak.

She holds a newspaper clipping and reads it aloud, “’Peak to Peak against Kent Denver in top-10 showdown’.”

Peak to Peak’s Alex Johnson (8) raises the Class 3A soccer state championship trophy and celebrates with her teammates after a 2-1 victory over Colorado Academy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday.

The Pumas. Morel. Coach Peter Chandler. All key words enshrined into a dynasty, as from 2011-2013 the small-school girls program out of Lafayette crawled into the headlines, going to three straight Class 3A championship games while winning the latter two.

In bold was Morel.

When the four-year striker took home a second straight player of the year honor following her senior season in 2013, the story’s cover photo captured her ripping a soccer ball apart with her hands as her golden blonde hair flares in the wind. All of it truly seemed to be something of a rock-star career disguised in soccer.

Morel finished with 108 career goals for Peak to Peak — 34 her junior season, 38 as a senior, and none more important than her game-winning headers in the 2012 and 2013 title games.

The winners “both came off corners,” Morel said. “Headers were somewhat of my specialty. I loved headers because I was always really aggressive when I could use my head. I had the timing of it and always loved practicing corners.”

Both crossing assists were right on, too, she said. “It was just … unexplainable.”

Daily Camera file photo
Peak to Peak’s Brianna Wetmore, center, was a sophomore on the 2013 Class 3A championship team.

The 2012 winner came on the backend of a 2-1 comeback victory over Colorado Academy, clinching the program’s first title and the school’s third.

That year, the Pumas had returned to high school soccer’s centerstage, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, after falling to The Classical Aacademy in the 3A title game in 2011. They’d dominated through the postseason, outscoring teams 19-2, and did much of it without the program’s architect, Chandler, on the sidelines.

Chandler, who’d previously led Peak to Peak’s boys soccer team to the school’s first title in 2005, missed the second through semifinal rounds to attend the five different college graduations across the country for his quintuplets — four girls and a boy. His return was celebrated among his players, who then found another gear after halftime.

“He’s the kind of coach that just fosters your love for the sport,” former Peak to Peak centerback Galen Roda said.

The Pumas had overcome a deficit to the Mustangs earlier in the season — down 2-0 — only to rally for a 4-3 win. So, when Alex Johnson’s 55th minute goal tied the 3A finale 1-1, the confidence oozed. And when she found Morel to go ahead in the 64th, it was a countdown to victory as the Pumas eventually doused celebratory ice water over their coach.

“It gives me goosebumps just thinking of it,” Morel said.

Daily Camera file photo
Peak to Peak’s Galen Roda, center, was an intregal part of three championship-game appearances and two Class 3A state titles for the Pumas.

The next year the Pumas were led again by Morel, Roda, and stingy defense that allowed just 28 goals over 40 games from 2012-13. Morel capped the repeat off with double-overtime, walk-off winners in both a 1-0 semifinal win over Kent Denver and a 1-0 title win over TCA.

After the 2011 finals loss to TCA “there was just a big focus on playing together and having sound fundamentals,” Roda said. “And we got really good at playing together. We were reading the game well and knew what our other players could do. And we covered each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Roda went on to play club soccer at CU, and to this day, she often coaches for the Broomfield Blast Soccer Club. Morel, after an admittedly frustrating career at Western State, finds joy again in the sport. She currently coaches the freshmen boys team at Niwot.

“Those games at Peak to Peak gave me so much,” Morel said. “Peak to Peak, I mean playing on that field, playing with them, I learned so much inner-strength and outer-strength. And I tend to pass that on to the kids I coach.”

Details of Dynasty: Peak to Peak girls soccer

Coach: Peter Chandler

Dynasty years: From 2011-2013, Peak to Peak made it to Class 3A finals game and won the latter two. Belle Morel had 34 goals and 12 assists in 2012, leading the Pumas past Colorado Academy in the finale. She had 38 and seven more in 2013 as Peak to Peak avenged its 2011 finals loss to TCA with a 1-0 double-overtime win. After 2013, its talented senior class graduated, and Chandler took a hiatus as coach and later retired. The Pumas returned to the state title game in 2017 but lost in penalty kicks to The Academy.

Major players: Among many, Brynna Bostic, Stephanie Colgate, Madison Corona, Ivy Devries, Micah Friesen, Emily Gardner, Jordan Harjes, Kyla Hilty, Victoria Hogtun, Alex Johnson, Lauren Jones, Paige Jones, Daria Jouzdani, Emily Karl, Issy Labriola, Kaja Lamvik, Belle Morel, Sarah Martinez, Lea Maxwell, Katie McMenamin, Chase Robbins, Kyle Robbins, Grae Roda, Galen Roda, Sammy Secrist, Sarah Shepherd, Raquel Solis, Carissa Thomas, Michaela Vanderheiden, Brianna Wetmore.

Most dominant moment: The 2012 team outscored opponents 87-13 and went 17-3 with its only losses coming against 4A Niwot and 3A top seeds in No. 1 Holy Family and No. 2 Faith Christian. As the third seed, the Pumas beat TCA, which beat them in the 2011 finals, in the quarterfinals. Then beat Faith Christian, then Colorado Academy. Along with Morel’s 34 goals, Lea Maxwell (11), Katie McMenamin (10) and Kaja Lamvik (10) also had double-digit goals.

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