After a mid-season loss to Kent Denver (Englewood)
-- a rematch of the 2016 state field hockey championship – Palmer Ridge (Monument)
put together a run that carried the Bears right to the top headed into the state tournament.
Palmer Ridge closed the 2017 regular season with nine consecutive victories, outscoring opponents 46-4 in those contests. The Bears wrapped up a 13-1-1 regular season with a 4-0 victory over Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
on Wednesday, and one day later came away with the No. 1 overall seed in the eight-team state tournament that starts Friday afternoon.
“It’s definitely a confidence-builder. It’s exciting for the girls to achieve it,” Bears coach Paul Lewis said of the top seed. “It’s the first time we’ve done it in school history, so that’s exciting. We’re just proud to have a good set-up and have a home game coming in, and hopefully progress from there.”
Palmer Ridge hosts that same Cheyenne Mountain team in the first round Saturday morning at Don Breese Stadium. The winner draws either No. 4 Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
or No. 5 Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
in the semifinals Oct. 24.
The state championship game is at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26, capping off a whirlwind week that will crown a state champion.
Palmer Ridge is no stranger to big expectations on the state stage, but the Bears haven't done it as a top seed. The team made the championship game in three of the previous five seasons before falling just short: The Bears fell to Colorado Academy (Denver)
in 2012 and 2014 before getting blanked 2-0 by Kent Denver last fall.
The Bears did already snap one unlucky streak in the 2016 postseason though. Colorado Academy – which won four titles in a row from 2012-15 – had ended the Bears' season in five consecutive postseason tournaments before Palmer Ridge earned a 1-0 decision over the Mustangs in the 2016 semifinals.
Kent Denver defeated Palmer Ridge two days later, and while the Bears graduated their two leading scorers – Shannon Snediker and Emily Munn – the team saw glimpses from a player who helped fill that void and then some this season.Jordyn Isner
scored six goals and added three assists as a sophomore. Fast forward to this fall, and the junior leads the state in goals (21) and points (53). She has at least one point in each of the team's 15 games, and scored each of her team's three goals in a 3-1 victory over Colorado Academy on Oct. 3.
“It’s awesome having someone on the field we know can put the ball away, and putting it in the net even against top teams is a big advantage,” said Lewis, who pointed out that Isner's ability to set up goals has been just as important as scoring them herself. “I think a lot of top teams struggle when they play against strong defenses getting the ball in the net. All schools are looking for someone who is going to take that lead, and Jordyn is someone who is really just being in the right spot and doing the right things.”
Sophomore Hannah Tellez
is second on the team with 11 goals and nine assists, and senior Liz Phillips
had 10 goals and seven assists. Five players have at least 20 points for Palmer Ridge.
“This is a team that the starting group is really strong. The subs have to come in and do their part,” Lewis said. “We’re a 26-player-deep program going up against teams who have 50-plus, 60-plus or even 80- to 100-plus players. We’ve had a good level of play out of our subs and non-starters this year. It’s definitely a team effort.”
Cheyenne Mountain (8-6-1) – which has victories over Kent Denver and Cherry Creek this season – didn't make the postseason a year ago after winning just four games. But the Indians bounced back this fall behind the play of a balanced lineup. Senior Abby Timmins
leads the team with eight goals and 18 points overall.MaxPreps Colorado state field hockey bracket
Here is a look at the other three quarterfinal games headed into play this afternoon:No. 2 Colorado Academy vs. No. 7 Mountain Vista, 4:30 p.m., Friday
The Mustangs (11-2-2) have won four in a row since the loss to Palmer Ridge and have allowed only seven goals on the season. Senior Lila Arnold
leads Colorado Academy with 11 goals and junior Sloane Murphy
has 10. Senior goalie Ellie Bauer
has allowed 0.40 goals in 14 appearances.Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch)
(6-5-4) has six overtime games to its credit this fall, including its final two games of the regular season – a tie with Kent Denver and a loss to Cherry Creek. While the team hasn't been able to forge a consistent stretch, the play of senior Logan Derosia
(13 goals) and junior Taylor Donaldson
(seven goals and four assists) have kept the Golden Eagles competitive in big matches.
The two teams last played Aug. 31, a 3-0 victory for Colorado Academy.
No. 3 Kent Denver vs. No. 6 Denver East, 4 p.m., Friday
Kent Denver (11-2-2) was riding a five-game winning streak before playing to a 1-1 tie with Mountain Vista and dropping a 1-0 game to Cherry Creek late in the season. But the defending champions closed with shutout victories over Regis Jesuit and Smoky Hill (Aurora) to enter the playoffs with some momentum and is the only squad to defeat Palmer Ridge. Senior Emma Domich
– a first-team all-state talent a year ago – and junior Madeleine Hunt
have helped to pace a balanced attack.Denver East
(10-5) won three of its final four games, with the only setback coming in the finale to Colorado Academy. The Angels, who made the semifinals a year ago, have three players with at least 13 points in sophomore Lucy Mchugh
, junior Maddie Darre
and senior Kelly Wulf
.No. 4 Regis Jesuit vs. No. 5 Cherry Creek, 2 p.m., Saturday
Regis Jesuit (11-2-2) opened the season with a back-and-forth 5-4 overtime loss to Palmer Ridge and hasn't looked back. Outside of a loss to Kent Denver and ties with the Sun Devils and Colorado Academy, the Raiders have been a force. The team has nine shutouts in its 11 victories, and senior Regan Cadieux
leads the squad with 14 goals and six assists. Senior Bridget Kennedy
isn't far behind with 11 goals.
Cherry Creek (10-4-1) has endured some ups and downs, but the Bruins have some big wins under their belt. Cherry Creek won its final five games in the regular season, including victories over Denver East, Kent Denver and Mountain Vista. Sophomore Amelia McCarthy
leads the team with seven goals and senior Hali Sibilia
has six to her credit.