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Girls soccer: Jefferson Academy advances to 3A semis

Jaguars defeat Metro League foe Prospect Ridge with three unanswered scores

BROOMFIELD — Coming into Tuesday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal with identical 14-3 records, Metro League rivals Jefferson Academy and Prospect Ridge Academy were destined for another classic.

The Jaguars came away with a 2-1 victory in league play and neither team had allowed a goal in the playoffs thus far.

Jefferson Academy, which has made the Final Four every year since 2015, scored three unanswered goals to eliminate its rival and advance again with a 3-1 victory.

The Jaguars will get another rematch with a league opponent, Colorado Academy, in Thursday’s semifinals in Colorado Springs. Getting past the Miners, though, was a battle.

“What an opponent,” Jefferson Academy co-head coach Hannah Wilson said. “Prospect Ridge, they’re a tough league opponent, and to face them again in the playoffs, there is so much competitive fire between the two teams. They’re phenomenal.”

Halfway through the first half, the Miners scored off a free kick to go ahead 1-0. Both teams were playing the tough defense that helped get them to the quarterfinals.

Just when it looked like the Miners might take the lead into halftime, the Jaguars tied it up in the 37th minute on a goal by Gianna Gagliano.

That goal gave Jefferson Academy some momentum going into halftime.

“It was a momentum swinger,” Wilson said. “When you can compose yourself and know that we can trust each other and get that goal back. Getting that goal just before half really swung the momentum in our favor and I think we just went out with that determination and grit they had fostered and these girls just embodied.”

Just over six minutes into the second half, the Jaguars took the lead.

After a first half that saw a combination of off-target shots and saves by the Miners’ keeper, Kate Runyon got the ball after a series of passes and put the it in the bottom left corner of the net.

It turned out to be the game-winning goal.

“We moved it really well,” Runyon said. “One thing we’ve worked on all season is keeping the ball and making sure we ping it around and not just kick it forward. I think it was like six passes, something like that, but we just moved it really well and it went in. It was a great team goal.”

The Jaguars hung onto that one-goal lead until they added one more with just over six minutes remaining.

Ella Pajor got one past the keeper at point-blank range for the final 3-1 margin.

“We just really fought hard and it was a great team effort and we didn’t quit until the last second,” Runyon said. “It was a fun game. That was probably our most fun game this season. It was good.”

Now the Jaguars get a chance to avenge a 2-0 loss to Colorado Academy in league play when the teams meet less than 48 hours after punching their ticket to the semifinals.

“They are another phenomenal league opponent,” Wilson said. “We lost to them in the regular season. It is always a tough battle. It is always a tight competition.”