Lady Cougars lack poise in playoff loss

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Evergreen can’t find the finishing touch on offense against Palmer Ridge in a second-round defeat

By Michael Hicks

MONUMENT — Blood, sweat and tears, Evergreen had a little bit of it all on May 10.
First, the Lady Cougars had blood courtesy of the bitten tongue of freshman scoring machine Zoe Peterson in the first half. Then there’s the sweat. They are playing soccer after all. And, finally, the tears for a season that ended at Don Breese Stadium in the second round of the 4A state girls soccer playoffs.
Mackenzie Gouner got her foot on a Molly Malone pass in the 34th minute and trickled the ball past Evergreen goalkeeper Natalie Ulfig, and Poli Warwick added an insurance goal in the 65th minute for a 2-0 Palmer Ridge victory. The loss ended the Lady Cougars’ season at 8-6-1 and in the second round for the second consecutive season.
“It was (a) pretty successful (season). It’s disappointing when you lose the last game, but we played pretty well,” Evergreen head coach Peter Jeans said.
Arguably, 14th-seeded Evergreen played just as well, if not at times better than No. 3 Palmer Ridge (13-3-1). The only difference was that the Lady Bears, who played host to Wheat Ridge in the quarterfinals on May 14, were able to finish off a pair of scoring opportunities and EHS couldn’t.
Evergreen’s best scoring threat came in the 27th minute when Jenny Slack’s header skipped past the far post following a pass from Katie Wilson. Though the Lady Cougars had just five shots on goal — most of them in the second half — the offensive presence was there.
“It requires a lot of poise and great finishing to get that goal. Today, we carried the play at times, but we just didn’t really have that technical stuff and poise in the finishing third. You hope when they get older they will develop and they will,” Jeans said.
Ulfig made seven saves in net, while her Palmer Ridge counterpart Kaylyn Smith had four.
Peterson wasn’t the only one coping with a facial injury as Palmer Ridge’s Kaylyn Smith took a ball off her grill in the 52nd minute. Evergreen’s Jahna Pusedu and Kylee Petrik were also banged up in the aftermath of a physical contest.
Evergreen dropped two of its final three games, including a regular-season finale loss to Green Mountain that decided the 4A Jeffco League title. But sandwiched between a season-opening 0-3 start and the 1-2 finish was an 8-1-1 record that identified who the Lady Cougars were, senior Brooke Phillips said.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of us. Those were some tough losses, but those are two really good teams,” Phillips said. “I don’t think they played like amazing games. I don’t look down on our team at all (for those losses). They’re going to be a threat to come from now on. They’re ready.”
Though the Lady Cougars graduate Phillips they return everybody else. That gives them plenty to look forward to in 2014.
“I feel like we’re going to be really great next year even though we’ll be missing Brooke,” Peterson said. “She’s definitely a key player, but I feel like we’ll come out stronger next year and be ready to win.”


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