Fantastic is the word that kept coming out of Justin Stephens’ mouth. The Fort Collins High School girls soccer coach thought the Lambkins’ offense was fantastic, their defense was fantastic and the score, 2-0 against defending Class 5A state champion Cherry Creek, well that was fantastic too.
For the first 20 minutes, Cherry Creek (1-2) seemed to control the tempo. Although the Bruins got off just one shot in the first 10 minutes, they were the only team to even get that far.
For Fort Collins (2-1), those first few minutes were simply an adjustment period. The Lambkins installed a new formation this season and beyond a couple of JV scrimmages, Fort Collins just hadn’t had the chance to practice its new look.
That new look, combined with a stout back line that allowed just three shots on goal, seemed to work just fine once the Lambkins got rolling.
The final goal for Fort Collins came with just 9 seconds left in the game, as Kasey Dietrich put in her second thanks to a scooting assist from captain Katy Couperus on the right flank. The 2-0 margin aptly described the game. Apart from the first few minutes, Fort Collins controlled the game, imposing its will on Cherry Creek to get the impressive early-season win.
It was thanks to the defense that the Lambkins’ offense was able to work out the kinks. The back line thwarted three-straight corner kicks with about 10 minutes left in the first half before the Lambkins found themselves on the offensive.
Dietrich had a defender on her hip, turned to her right and fired a turf-scraping shot to the lower left corner of the Bruins’ goal. Keeper Alex Kahalley never had a chance. The Lambkins went up 1-0 and wouldn’t even need that second Dietrich goal. Stephens said as much afterward.
“That wasn’t a comfort goal,” Stephens said. “That was working for your teammates.”
Fort Collins keeper Catherine Arneson knows a little something about that. She should have never had a chance late in the second half. A low cross found Cherry Creek’s Ryan Williams on the 6-yard box with only Arneson and net in front of her. The Lambkins’ bench sucked all of the oxygen out of open-air French Field.
“I really didn’t want them to score,” Arneson explained afterward.
Arneson’s lunge was enough that her hip deflected Williams’ shot wide left. Arneson held her thumb and index finger inches apart.
“It was this close,” she said.
Cherry Creek was “this close” all game. After halftime, coach David Paynter said the Bruins just needed to capitalize on opportunities. Those opportunities came, but the second half played out the same. The Bruins took just three shots in the second half and had just three on goal in the game as the Lambkins’ defense, and Arneson, recorded Fort Collins’ second shutout of the season.
There’s a word for that, right coach Stephens?
Tyler Silvy covers prep sports for The Coloradoan. Reach him via email at TylerSilvy
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