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Defending state champs pull away from EHS late

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By Michael Hicks

Air Academy showed why it’s the defending 4A state girls soccer champion, but only after overcoming a second-half scare from Evergreen on March 7 in Colorado Springs.
Brooke Braden led Air Academy, which is ranked No. 3 in the season-opening Denver Post media poll, with two goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Lady Cougars. It was the season-opener for both teams. Caren Nelson and Katie Rainsberger also scored for the Lady Kadets (1-0).
Air Academy, which defeated Evergreen’s 4A Jeffco League rival Green Mountain in last year’s state finals, scored three goals in the final 20 minutes, including two in the closing minutes, to put the game away.
“It was disappointing to end the way it did, as the game was very close and tight for much of the night,” Evergreen head coach Peter Jeans said. “I think we learned at how high a level we can play, but also how much concentration it requires to finish a tough game against such a difficult opponent.”
Air Academy led 1-0 at halftime, but ninth-ranked Evergreen (0-1), which advanced to the second round of the 4A state playoffs in 2012, tied the game in the 52nd minute at 1-all.
Erin Morrato scored the Lady Cougars’ lone goal. Katie Wilson’s free kick set up the opportunity. Evergreen had six shots — three of which were on goal. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Temple made 11 saves in net for the Lady Cougars.
“I was expecting that we would be challenged and would need to defend in a very disciplined manner, but also that we would rise to the occasion. And we played a terrific game … for 70 minutes,” Jeans said. “The game was very high-level and fast-paced, and the other team is truly a high-caliber team and worthy defending state champion. They were excellent in all aspects of the game.
“We have several more opponents of a high quality as the year goes on, and we hope this teaches us how to finish off a game against an opponent the likes of whom we will need to beat come playoff time.”

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.