LAKEWOOD — Austin Starr walked up to Bear Creek goalkeeper Derrick Kipp prior to Dakota Ridge’s game with the Bears and declared that he was going to score on him. It was all in fun, as Starr and Kipp have been club teammates on the U-17 Colorado United White for the past two years. But not even Starr could envision how true his statement was about to become.
The Dakota Ridge senior midfielder scored a career-high three goals in the span of nine minutes early in the second half as the Eagles won for the first time in 2013. Dakota Ridge scored a 5-0 win over Bear Creek in the fifth-place game of the South Jeffco Invite at Lakewood Memorial Field.
The game was scoreless at halftime, with neither team creating much pressure on the opposing net, especially Dakota Ridge, said head coach Damon Smerchek. That had to change, for the Eagles’ sake.
“In the first half I was extremely unhappy with the pressure that we put on defensively, the intensity that we played with,” Smerchek said. “Through our first two games, I’ve seen our ability to move the ball, and I’ve seen us completely fall apart. At halftime, we talked about turning on the intensity, and if we do those things, it’s going to come, and it did. Lucky for us it did.”
Starr was a major reason for that, if not the biggest. He lit the scoreboard just 30 seconds into the second half on a goal into the left corner of the net. He added a second goal a minute later after a misplayed clear by Bear Creek in front of the Bears’ net. A third goal just inside the left post in the 50th minute chased Kipp.
“At halftime we knew we weren’t playing our best. We knew we had to get something going right off the start,” Starr said. “Our offensive pressure from our forwards kind of set us up, set me up for my goals that we scored.”
While Starr and sophomore midfielder Marshal Ivy put Dakota Ridge (1-3) ahead 4-0 with 27 minutes left in the game, Smerchek took the position that it was the Eagles’ defense that set the tone for Dakota Ridge’s second-half success.
“We definitely moved the ball better. I thought it all started with our defensive pressure. We got into every tackle, challenged every ball,” Smerchek said. “The truth was that Bear Creek gave us some balls pretty deep in our offensive zone, and we were able to take advantage.”
Senior defender Grant Lavender closed the scoring with a late penalty kick, sending Bear Creek to 0-4.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.