It was David vs. Goliath on the Cheyenne Mountain soccer field on May 7. And while Goliath won this match, David walked away with his head held high.
In simpler terms, the Woodland Park girls’ soccer team held its own against the defending state champions in a Class 4A first-round game.
“We hung with them,” said Woodland Park coach Andrew Pappadakis. “This is the best game our girls have played all season. No one had a bad game. They played whistle to whistle.”
The Panthers (9-7) were on the short end of an 8-0 score, but the game went the full 80 minutes. Woodland Park, the No. 32 seed in the 32-team tournament, held No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain (14-0-2) to five goals in the first half while the Indians played all of their starters.
“We spent two days at practice knowing we had Cheyenne and working on the things they do,” Pappadakis said. “Everything they did we practiced first. There were no surprises.”
Woodland Park had few scoring opportunities and no shots on goal. Despite being down early - Cheyenne Mountain scored 32 seconds into the match — the Panthers kept their focus on defense and made the Indians work the ball around before getting a decent shot.
The Panthers’ defense included Jenny Sells, Cheyenne Wilcox, Caitlin Thorne, Jayne Welch and Laura Mauricio.
Pappadakis was especially proud of his two goaltenders; sophomore Samantha Self (who played the first half) and senior Becky Seib (who played all of the second half)
“Both goalies came up huge with some really wonderful saves,” he said.
All of Cheyenne Mountain’s players are involved in a club program, while just a few of Woodland Park’s players travel down Ute Pass to play on a club team.
“That makes a difference,” Pappadakis said.
Woodland Park enjoyed a successful all-around season, despite losing several players to injury; junior Katie Stunkard, freshman Lexi Rees and senior Michaele McDonough to name a few.
The Panthers should return a solid group of players for the 2015 season, led by Sells (15 goals, 9 assists), Morghan Sieracki (11, 8), Thorne (4, 1), Self, Wilcox, Welch and freshman Amelia Stein.
With Rees and Stunkard healthy next season there’s appears to be no reason why Woodland Park should not compete for a league title and a third-consecutive playoff appearance.
The revamped Metro League will include newcomers Canon City and traditional 3A state-power The Classical Academy.
“I think we can win league next year,” Pappadakis said. “I think we can beat TCA.
“But the girls have to commit. They have to play in the summer. If we do that we will win league and we will get a higher seed than 25, which is what Mesa Ridge got this year for winning our league.”
Woodland Park was the third-place team from the Metro League this season. League champ Mesa Ridge and second-place Coronado both lost their first-round playoff games.