AURORA — It was not quite a forgone conclusion but rather a strong bet to when, not if, Legacy and its juggernaut offense would put together enough finishing touches to succeed and advance victoriously in the spring. But the pipeline that had gushed so much reward the past few months came on just a bit too late Monday night in Aurora, effectively ending the Lightning’s season.
What a special season it had been, Legacy coach Heather Solar said.
“Look at them right now,” she said, noting her seniors while pointing to the team huddled tightly together following its 3-1 loss to No. 4 Grandview in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. “They play for each other. I hope that culture continues.”
Matching strengths, the fifth-seeded Lightning totaled a 5A-most 16 goals through the first two rounds while its superstar junior Kendall Rippley had eight of her own, giving her a classification-most 34 on the year.
But the task perhaps was no grander than this — a Grandview defense, strong and athletic, that had allowed just three goals in 17 games coming in. And a goalkeeper in Jordan Nytes, an Oklahoma State commit, who quickly and consistently proved every bit of her elite status.
Trailing 2-0, Legacy made a strong push over the final 12 minutes. Senior defender Madison Allshouse was true on her penalty kick in the 69th to get the Lightning within one. The offense crashed deep for the potential equalizer, but then a long clearance in the 76th found Naomi Clark, who sealed things with her second goal of the game.
“Even the last 15 seconds they were battling for everything,” Solar said of her team. “That’s all you can ask for. It didn’t roll our way today but I’m not going to look back and be disappointed at all with the effort.”
Earlier, the teams played to a scoreless draw at half before Grandview found enough of a crease in the opening minutes following the break. Clark, the team’s leading scorer, speared a chance at the top left corner of the net. It was tipped into the crossbar by keeper Shay Kercher-Pratt and bounced out to Isabel Dillehay for the open-net finish.
Clark then finished on her own with 12:03 remaining, dancing around a defender high in the box before sticking the opposite corner. Twenty-two seconds later, Allshouse got it within one when she beat Nytes straight down the middle for her sixth goal of the year. But it wasn’t enough.
“It was a special season for sure,” Allshouse said. “It was fun to be able to sit back on the backline some days and watch our attack just fly at teams. Today, I had a lot to do and it’s unfortunate to go out playing my best. It’s my last high school game ever. But I’ll always remember watching the girls tear it up, up top.”
Legacy finished the season with 92 goals. Rippley’s 34 goals stands as the most in the 5A classification in at least a decade, per MaxPreps. Seniors Paige Armstrong finished with 18, Juliauna Hayward 17 and junior Katey Beaver nine.
Monday marked only the fifth time this season the Lightning didn’t score multiple goals in a game. Give credit to Grandview, Rippley said.
“They were very good at stepping to the ball quickly and didn’t let us play through those small spaces,” she said. “Yeah, we got in every now and then and we weren’t able to capitalize on that. But they were just a sound defense. They have some great players back there.”
Grandview will face No. 1 Valor Christian in the semifinals Thursday at DU. Broomfield faces Columbine in the other.