WOODLAND PARK – Morghan Sieracki and Katie Stunkard scored two goals each on April 26 to lead the Woodland Park High School girls soccer team to a victory over Harrison in the first round of the Class 4A Metro League Crossover Tournament.
Jenny Sells, Shannon Bingen, Baillie Perales and Carissa Hiteshew also scored goals for the Panthers in the victory.
“We create a lot of opportunities,” said Woodland Park coach Andrew Pappadakis. “The girls are confident right now.”
The Panthers are the No. 3 seed in the tournament. They played at No. 2 Mesa Ridge on Tuesday, but results of that game were not available at press time. Win or lose, Woodland Park will play Thursday against either No. 1 Coronado or No. 4 Widefield.
The top three teams from the tournament earn automatics post season bids. The playoffs begin next week.
“We don’t have to prove anything to anybody,” Pappadakis said. “We felt we had to do that before. The girls only need to prove to themselves that they are a good team and can play with anybody. That’s a very good place for a team to be.”
Woodland Park has never won a league championship in girls soccer. The program has also never won a playoff game. The Panthers led made the playoffs in 2010.
Woodland Park is 9-3-1 overall, 4-2-1 in league, and enjoying one of its best seasons in school history. The Panthers’ losses are to Falcon (3-2 in the season opener on March 11), Mesa Ridge (2-1 on April 16) and Coronado (4-0 on April 23). The Panthers tied Mesa Ridge 3-3 on March 12.
Pappadakis believes his team could have played better in each of its losses.
“The losses and the tie are an illustration of our weaknesses,” he said.
“The loss to Coronado was deceptive. We had communication problems with our goalie (Grace Wyka) and defense. What led to that is easily fixable.”
For the most part, the Panthers’ defense has been very strong this season. Likewise, the offense has done its part, scoring an average of 6 ½ goals per game in the team’s wins.
Sells leads the club in scoring with 15 goals and 12 assists. Sieracki is next with 13 goals and five assists.
“Jenny could already have 25 goals and on her way to 30 or 35, but she has a role to play,” Pappadakis said. “She gets Morghan involved and the other girls involved. It makes us a better balanced team.”
If the Panthers earn the No. 1 seed from league, they would host a first-round playoff game next week.
They likely will be on the road if they are the No. 2 or No. 3 seed from the league. The odds of them advancing to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed is highly unlikely.
Pappadakis believes that a huge reason for the team’s success this season is due to a dedicated coaching staff. It consists of Taylor Carrillo, Justin Stones, Kevin Bernstetter and Chris Johnson.
“We wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without those guys,” Pappadakis said. “They are volunteering their time. Because of them we are able to go into constant breakout sessions and small groups. They are so good at what they do.”