ENGLEWOOD — Maybe this is Columbine’s time.
Five times the Lady Rebels have played for a 5A girls soccer state championship and five times they’ve come up empty. Will No. 6 be the one?
Columbine earned the right to find out after Kelcey Cavarra and Amanda Porter scored in the game’s opening 22 minutes as the eighth-seeded Lady Rebels knocked off defending champion Mountain Vista 2-0 in the state semifinals May 17 at Englewood High School.
Columbine (16-3) will play May 21 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City against Jeffco rival Ralston Valley, a 3-2 winner over Pine Creek in the other semifinal. This will be the first all-Jeffco 5A state title game since Dakota Ridge beat Green Mountain in 2003.
The Lady Rebels wasted little time in imposing their will. Sophomore midfielder Cavarra punched home a free kick from 24 yards out just 71 seconds into the contest for a 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes later, Porter hit the same lower right corner past a diving Christine Ottinger to put the Lady Rebels ahead 2-0 at the intermission.
“It was huge momentum for us. I think it gave us the boost that we really needed to beat a great team like this,” Cavarra said. “It got our intensity up.”
Columbine head coach Brian Todd agreed.
“In any game against any opponent, especially in a game of this magnitude, the team that scores the first goal has the edge. It gives them the edge, and we got that in the first minute,” Todd said. “I think it changed the game and gave us a bunch of confidence, and it guided us to a win.”
Mountain Vista (15-2-2), which had won two of the past three 5A state titles and three since 2005, appeared rattled by Columbine’s early goal. The Lady Golden Eagles never seriously challenged goalkeeper Sarah Luebking.
“They earned the right to be the best. They’ve earned that the last couple of years,” Todd said. “Our motivation was to knock off the best. Sometimes that is really hard to do, and it was hard to do today. Our girls rose to the occasion and had the confidence they needed.”
Columbine, which lost twice to rival Chatfield this season, topped Dakota Ridge in overtime in the second round and avoided a quarterfinal-round battle with top-seeded and undefeated Fossil Ridge, which was upset by Doherty. But the Lady Rebels say that it’s more than luck that has them playing for a state championship.
“It can be fate, but I think more than anything it’s our hard work,” Luebking said. “We’re very composed, and we play our game. It’s not just luck that we’re getting it (done) it’s all of our collected hard work together.”
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.