LAFAYETTE – The sun in her face at times Wednesday evening, Centaurus keeper Page Sanchez could still squint out every leap and dive taken by her counterpart, Erie’s Kayla Kirchoffner. Something to emulate, if not do better, she thought.
Two of the 5A/4A Northern League’s finest keepers waged in something of a great title fight, trading aerial saves and expert denials like uppercuts and jabs. It went like that until Ann Spence’s goal in the 66th minute, which lifted the 4A No. 6 Warriors past the Tigers 1-0.
“Obviously there is a goalkeeper union, so her great saves, I was cheering for her, too,” Sanchez said. “But I’m very competitive. When I see someone else make a great save, I’m like, ‘I want to one-up that. I don’t want to let a goal in.’”
And the senior netminder didn’t.
A picturesque evening at Spangenberg Field contrasted the brutal winds played in during the Warriors’ last home game a week ago. And with more fans in attendance for this one, they continued their reign as the last perfect team remaining in 4A.
Spence, off a clever short feed from Nyah Ringer in front of the net, netted her sixth goal of the season to push the Warriors to 9-0 and 6-0 in league. Sanchez salted the game away with another series of strong saves over the final 10 minutes for her fourth shutout of the season.
Centaurus became the last unblemished team in the classification when Thompson Valley tied Golden Saturday.
“We take a lot of pride that we’re (9-0) now, and I think that it pushes us even harder to have a shutout and keep winning,” Spence said. “It keeps us going.”
Not to the tune of its runaway victories over the past couple weeks, Centaurus survived amid a relentless effort from Erie (7-3-1, 2-3-1) — in particular, from Kirchoffner.
Erie’s sophomore goalie turned away fantastic opportunities by the league’s second-leading scorer, Ringer, to keep things scoreless in the 15th and 55th minutes. Sanchez matched it, denying Bailey Ubell and Arianna Caffarelli in the opening half, and had help from the post, too, which halted a tight-angled shot from Leah Price in the 31st.
Now with the lead in the final minutes, Sanchez ran out to stunt a breakaway in the 73rd and dove to stop Price’s crossbody shot in the 74th.
“We hate to lose,” Kirchoffner said. “You can tell on everyone’s faces. We’ve got tears, we don’t like it. But it can help us build momentum — it just depends how we respond to this.”
Centaurus will look to continue its best program start in more than a decade Saturday at Peak to Peak. Erie hosts Skyline Friday.