Demons live up to their name

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By Brian Forbes

ARVADA — The Evergreen Cougars expected to get hit at least once by the talented Golden Demons.

That, the Cougars hoped, was something they could handle.

What Evergreen coach Whitney Walker didn’t expect April 16 was the referees to take a few of their own shots.

Although the No.5-ranked Demons were the better side in terms of talent on the pitch, they defeated the Cougars 5-2 thanks to two penalty kicks, two free kicks right outside the penalty area and a corner kick.

Walker thought several of the calls were questionable, and the Demons made it look so easy, which only gets under the skin of the underdog all the more.

“When you get two set plays outside the penalty box and two penalty kicks, you should have four goals,” Walker said.

The Cougars (5-3-0) were whistled for an early penalty kick, which was converted, but roared back with a thundering counterattacking goal from Anya Kaufmann off a pass from Hailey Davey in the sixth minute to knot the score at the North Area Athletic Complex.

Game on? Not exactly.

The Demons scored three goals in a seven-minute span -- one goal straight in off a corner kick and then two headers off of free kicks from the left and right side of the 18-yard box.

And just like that, the Cougars were down 4-1 with 50 minutes to play.

“In the first half, we were just scared. We didn’t believe,” junior midfielder Hailey Stading said. “They’ve got some good strong players, and out of the air -- that’s not our strong point. We just got mentally weak on those points.”

Stading scored on long-distance rip with 16 minutes remaining to make it 4-2, but the Demons were awarded their second penalty of the night with 6:47 left to throw a vat of ice water on a Cougars team that had slowly rebuilt its grit and confidence.

“We had some positive things happen,” Stading said of the second-half effort.

After falling behind 1-0 in the fourth minute, the Cougars looked ready to step up when they equalized in textbook fashion.

Flying out of the defensive end and finding Davey in midfield, the junior flipped a ball over the defense for Kaufmann. The sophomore co-captain blazed on the ball, let it bounced once before she volleyed the ball perfectly over the Golden goalkeeper’s head.

The Cougars didn’t ride the momentum, however, and the fateful slide began in the 22nd minute when a corner kick curled in on goalie Kara Turner.

Three minutes later a free kick just outside the penalty area resulted in a flicked header and goal. Four minutes after that, a powerful header from the right side made it 4-1 in the 29th minute.

“I think we kind of had a little breakdown after that second goal,” Walker said. “It was a matter five, six minutes that they got their momentum and really got moving. Golden is a good team and they’re going to take advantage of that.”