Callie Hancock got her curve on.
Chasing down an excellent through ball from teammate Stephanie Rowe, Hancock was surprised that the soccer ball spilled out of the hands of Mullen’s goalkeeper and right to her feet March 19.
The only problem was Hancock was nearly parallel to the front of the goal, inches from the back line.
“I was struggling with my finishing and I just tried to get it in,” Hancock said. “It was kind of a cross but it ended up curving in.”
Hancock’s goal with eight minutes remaining in regulation salted away Chatfield’s 2-0 Class 5A nonleague victory over the depleted defending champions from Mullen. The Chargers (7-0) outshot the Mustangs (2-2-1) and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but had to endure a nervy finish before Hancock provided breathing room.
Senior defender C.J. McNeely helped the Chargers avoid another slow start with a crackling 40-yard free kick in the fifth minute. Chatfield would go on to pepper Mustangs goalie Christina Palomino with 13 shots, forcing a handful of top-shelf saves from the senior.
McNeely was denied a repeat goal seconds before halftime when Palomino turned her thundering free kick just over the crossbar.
Freshman midfielder Kelly McGrath was denied by Palomino in the 22nd minute and freshman striker Geneva Gray, who was on the doorstep to make sure Hancock’s goal went in, ripped a shot off the crossbar in the 78th minute.
“(Palomino) kept them in the game,” Chargers coach Brock Blume said. “Great saves.”
The Chargers also generated seven corner kicks to Mullen’s one.
Chatfield’s junior goalkeeper Alyssa Gillmore needed just two saves as the Chargers notched their fifth shutout of the season.
The game was a solid display of skill on both sides, but certainly could have been more had the teams not been ravaged by the loss of Rush club players this season. In addition to the five seniors and three juniors missing for the Chargers, Mullen was without All-Colorado forward Danielle Foxhoven and first-team all-state midfielder Brittany Kerridge.
Of course, that’s all history. And neither team is complaining.
“We’re just trying to connect with everyone and work it up the field,” McNeely said.
Connecting was key to Hancock’s goal as the Chargers were fluid in their counterattack.
From near midfield, Hancock played the ball to senior forward Tori Delmonico who centered the ball to Rowe. Rowe found Hancock sprinting down the left side with a slicing pass through Mullen’s defense that Palomino was late getting to.
The ball spilled and Hancock had enough time to swing the ball toward the goal or Gray. Take your pick.
“Blume told me to go in and score in the last 10 minutes,” Hancock said.
Ask and you shall receive.
Goals: McNeely (free kick), 5th minute; Hancock (unassisted), 72nd. Shots on goal: Mullen 1-1 – 2; Chatfield 7-7 – 14. Saves: Mullen (Palomino) 6-6 – 12; Chatfield (Gillmore) 1-1 – 2. Offsides: Mullen 0-0 – 0; Chatfield 1-1 – 2. Corner kicks: Mullen 0-1 – 1; Chatfield 3-4 – 7. Fouls: Mullen 8-5 – 13; Chatfield 6-4 – 10.