In the second minute Saturday, Grace Cutler scored to give the Fossil Ridge High School girls soccer team an early lead.
It turns out that goal awakened a monster. In the next 10 minutes, No. 1 Mountain Vista racked up three goals on the way to a 6-2 win in the Class 5A semifinals.
“I think we kept playing hard, but after they got that one goal we kind of got deflated and after that weren’t playing our best,” Fossil midfielder Lauren Roeling said.
Oddly, scoring an early goal has created problems for Fossil all season.
“Every time we do that, we go through about a 15-minute lull,” coach Shannon Clarke said. “It’s kind of a poison goal.”
It might be a season-long theme, but this one probably had more to do with the opponent. Mountain Vista (18-1) presents a lethal lineup. The Golden Eagles hardly allow any goals — only four all season before Saturday — and have an explosive attack.
That offense is led by youngsters. Freshman Mallory Pugh scored twice in the first 10 minutes and finished her hat trick in the second half.
“Mallory Pugh is a special player,” Mountain Vista coach Theresa Echtermeyer said. “She hasn’t had a goal in a while, and I predicted earlier that she was going to unleash today, and she did.”
For Mountain Vista, it was a full 80-minute performance after struggling for large chunks of Wednesday’s 3-2 quarterfinal win over Fort Collins.
“I think the Fort Collins game put us through some tough times, and that was good for us,” Echtermeyer said.
The 10-minute swing at the start of the game proved too large for No. 4 Fossil to overcome. The exuberance of being up in the second minute gave way to the reality of being down 3-1 10 minutes later and took the wind out of the SaberCats’ sails.
When it was 1-1, Cutler had a breakaway that was saved, further adding to the momentum swing.
“They’re flying at you. It’s a very talented team,” Clarke said. “I said to the girls that it’s great to have lost to a great team. I’m sure Vista is going to win (the championship) next week.”
While it’s tough to put things into perspective after a hard loss, Fossil was still proud of a season that saw the SaberCats win 12 of their last 13 games before Saturday.
“It was the best season ever for Fossil soccer,” Roeling said. “We wish we could have pulled it together (Saturday), but we’re proud.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle on Twitter @Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.