Eagles back in full force, top Rebels

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By Brian Forbes

LAKEWOOD — The Dakota Ridge Eagles got its soccer team back together just in time to face an old rival.

Having been missing several players for undisclosed reasons, the Eagles were in full force March 18 and got some timely goals for a 3-1 Class 5A Jefferson County League victory over Columbine.

“Honestly, I’m just glad to have players back,” Eagles coach Damon Smerchek said. “I’m just glad to come away with our first win and get on the right track.”

The Rebels thought they grabbed the opening goal two minutes in, but freshman Amanda Giddens was whistled for a foul after she took possession and fired a shot in the back of the net.

The Eagles answered four minutes later with a goal from Brooke Flores and would go up 2-0 in the 24th minute when Emily Holley punched a loose ball home off a corner kick.

The Rebels made it 2-1 four minutes later on a nice goal by forward Kristen Hamilton. Hamilton would come close to equalizing in the 54th minute, but the Eagles would put the game away on a free kick by defender Jenny Hutton in the 65th minute.

“We ran into an excited team,” Rebels coach Brian Todd said.

The Rebels were especially physical in the up-and-down encounter at Lakewood Memorial Field, although the Eagles weren’t afraid to mix it up and match the mood.

After dodging a disastrous start when Giddens’ goal was waved off, the unruffled Eagles struck when a nice pass sent the freshman Flores through on goal. Flores slotted her shot home to the right and then took a shot from a late collision for good measure.

Kelsey Loupee nearly doubled the Eagles’ advantage in the 21st minute but her shot off a nice pass from Kia Jeffords sailed just wide of Katelyn Phillips’ goal.

Loupee would contribute to Dakota Ridge’s next goal, however, as she sailed a corner kick into the heart of the penalty area in the 24th minute. The ball fell into a swirl of chaos and Holley instinctively stabbed it home through traffic.

“We were definitely driven to come out and do some good things,” Smerchek said.

The separation lasted four minutes as Hamilton cut the deficit to 2-1 when she stabbed the ball home from the right side with a defender seemingly right in front of her.

Loupee had a shot denied by the crossbar in the 38th minute, one of the last scoring chances in a game that grew increasingly tight.

Hamilton nearly equalized before Hutton put the game out of reach with a goal with 15 minutes remaining.

The Eagles defended a Columbine set piece and Hutton led the break the other way. The junior defender weaved down the right side and was fouled just outside the penalty area by Lindsay Loundagin.

Hutton took the free kick and curled a shot toward the back post to make it 3-1.

“I was aiming for the goal,” Hutton said. “I told people to get in far post so if I missed they’d be there to put it in.”