Pine Creek hit the magic number of two goals May 12 during the Class 5A second-round playoff game at the North Area Athletic Complex.
No. 8-seeded Ralston Valley had given up two or more goals only four times this girls soccer season, but all four of those games turned out to be losses for the Mustangs. No. 9 Pine Creek put in a pair of first-half goals on the way to a 2-0 victory to hand the Mustangs their fifth loss of the season and eliminate them from the state tournament. The Eagles earned a spot in the quarterfinals of 5A girls soccer state tournament with the road win.
“It was really big, but a 2-0 lead for nearly the whole game is kind of a scary lead because it can go downhill right away,” Amsden said of the two first-half goals. “I think we just had some many key players push hard on defense and kept our lead. I think we had a really amazing game today.”
Amsden scored on Pine Creek’s first scoring chance. The junior forward found some open space in front of Ralston Valley junior goalie Margot Mulhern in the 6th minute and fired a low shot out of Mulhern’s reach for a 1-0 lead. It was Amsden’s 21st goal of the season.
“Ava is a phenomenal player,” Pine Creek coach John Frederick said of the Eagles’ leading scorer. “She has been through a couple of things over the last couple of games outside of the soccer world and handled it really well. She is always a competitor and fights. She leads by example.”
Ralston Valley (11-5-1 record) held possession for a good amount of the first half, but the Eagles (12-4) struck again in the 20th minute. Senior Monica Yoder was able to corral a loose ball in the Mustangs’ goalie box and hit the back of the net midway through the first half for a 2-0 lead.
“There isn’t much you can do about that,” Ralston Valley coach Kamee Morwood said of the Eagles scoring on two early opportunities. “I thought we came out really strong. We had chances that we didn’t finish. When you don’t capitalize it takes some wind out of your sails.”
Ralston Valley sophomore Raleigh Greason had dangerous runs on a handful of occasions in the first half, but couldn’t get a shot past Pine Creek sophomore goalie Lauren Anderson.
The Mustangs had a prime scoring chance to break-up the shutout in the 73rd minute when Pine Creek junior Aubriana Austin received a red-card for an intentional handball in the Eagles’ goal box.
However, Greason’s penalty kick sailed over the goal and Pine Creek didn’t surrender a goal in the nearly 8 minutes it played a player down before time expired.
“Raleigh is the heartbeat of our team,” Morwood said. “She brings all the emotion every game she is on the field. There are times that things just don’t go your way. She brought everything she could to help us win this game. Today it just didn’t go our way.”
Greason finished her sophomore campaign with 21 goals and 14 assists.
“We stopped Greason tonight. She is a very dangerous player,” Frederick said. “I’m always holding my breathe when she has the ball.”
It was the 7th shutout victory of the season for Pine Creek and just the second time all season Ralston Valley had been held scoreless.
“Ralston Valley is a great team,” Frederick said. “They put on a lot of pressure. They can score at any moment. Our young back-line stepped up and played well. Our midfielders came back and played defense. We had all 10 playing defense and that is what we needed.”
Pine Creek was scheduled to face No. 17 Rock Canyon in the quarterfinals Monday, May 15, at Englewood High School. The Jaguars upset top-seeded Fossil Ridge 3-2 in overtime Friday night.
Pine Creek and Rock Canyon met earlier this season with the Eagles taking a 2-1 overtime win. Despite the most resent victory, Amsden still remembers the playoff loss to Rock Canyon two years ago.
“We lost to Rock Canyon in the quarterfinals my freshman year,” Amsden said. “It will be kind of a rematch, but we are going to win.”
Ralston Valley wraps up a solid season, but the Mustangs will surely be hungry after suffering a home loss to end their season.
“We’ll defintely miss our seniors. The three of them are amazing leaders,” Morwood said of Katie Resendez, Makahi Chambers and Diana Wilder. “But it is an exciting future as well with the leadership that we have and the core group that is coming back. They love to play soccer, play for this program and play for their school. It’s a very bright future.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.