The 2016 girls soccer season was a good mix of repeat champions blending with some fresh but familiar faces.
When the spring campaign came to a close last May, a pair of teams – Class 5A Grandview (Aurora)
and Class 2A Vail Mountain
– had defended its state championships at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
But in 4A, Lewis-Palmer (Monument)
avenged a 2015 title defeat and captured its first state crown in 20 years by defeating Valor Christian – an Eagles team making its first finals appearance since 2011. The Rangers' championship also ended the three-year reign of rival Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
In Class 3A, Kent Denver (Englewood)
denied Colorado Academy a three-peat and in doing so claimed its first title since 2007.
So now that the 2017 season is less than week old, what is in store? Two-time defending champion Grandview has reloaded, with reigning Player of the Year Taylor Parker
and a host of others returning. The team will be without midfielder Nicole Lyubenko though, who graduated early and has enrolled at the University of Alabama.
Lewis-Palmer returns 4A POY Brianna Alger, but the Rangers have to contend with a dangerous Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
squad among several others. Kent Denver also brings back the 3A Player of the Year in Sage Digiulio
, but the classification also added the two-time defending 2A champion in Vail Mountain.
That means that the state's newest classification will crown a new champion. Dawson School (Lafayette)
, the two-time runner-up, has the 2A POY in senior Hannah Isenhart
Here is a quick glance at each of the four classifications headed into the rest of the spring season:Class 5A
Grandview is still a threat, given that first-team all-state talent Parker and Jessica Hixson
are back to anchor a strong defense. The Wolves dropped their opener to Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
, which was the No. 3 seed last spring before getting upset in the second round.
Next up for Grandview is a Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch)
team that advanced to the 5A title game before falling 2-1 to the Wolves. The Golden Eagles return leading scorer Katie Joella
and all-state midfielder Haley Schueppert
, among others.Columbine (Littleton)
, backed by returning talent like Amanda Porter
and Tessa Barton
, opened strong with victories over ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch) and Denver East. The Rebels are front-loaded with a challenging non-league slate that includes four teams currently ranked in the top 10 of the CHSAANow.com preseason top 10.
The Front Range League figures to be a challenge again. Broomfield
advanced to the state semifinals, and Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
, Fairview (Boulder)
and Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins)
each return all-state talent.
Defending state champion:
7 p.m. May 24 at Dick's Sporting Goods ParkReturning all-state players: Rebekah Burton
, Sr., Cherokee Trail (2nd team); Remi Clarke
, Jr., Fossil Ridge (2nd team); Libby Geraghty
, Sr., Cherry Creek (2nd team); Jessica Hixson, Sr., Grandview (1st team); Taylor Parker, Sr., Grandview (1st team); Haley Schueppert, Sr., Mountain Vista (1st team); Tea Smith, Sr., Fairview (2nd team); Madison Williams
, Jr., Rocky Mountain (2nd team).Class 4A
After coming so close two years ago to ending its championship drought, Lewis-Palmer got a second chance last spring. The Rangers didn't allow a goal in five postseason contests in winning their first crown since 1996.
Alger scored 29 goals to along with 12 assists as a junior, and Annica Fletemeyer had 13 more. But the 5A/4A
Pikes Peak League also features the likes of Air Academy (US Air Force Academy)
– already off to a 3-0 start – and Cheyenne Mountain.
Valor Christian opened with victories over Longmont and Cheyenne Mountain. The Eagles have three Division I-commits in Camryn Dyke
(Notre Dame), Tess Boade
(Duke) and Grace Collins
(Wyoming), and two more who have signed to play NAIA soccer. The 4A Jeffco League is one of the state's best, with Wheat Ridge
, D'Evelyn (Denver)
also ranked in the preseason poll.Windsor
and Mullen (Denver)
reached the semifinals last May by knocking out two Pikes Peak League teams. Mullen's Caleigh Michael
and Windsor's Adalyn Vergara
were second-team all-state selections.
Defending state champion:
5 p.m. May 24 at Dick's Sporting Goods ParkReturning all-state players:
Brianna Alger, Sr., Lewis-Palmer (1st team); Hannah Burgo
, Sr., The Classical Academy (2nd team); Camryn Dyke, Sr., Valor Christian (1st team); Cori Dyke
, So., Valor Christian (1st team); Lauren Jones
, Sr., Cheyenne Mountain (1st team); Chaynee Kingsbury, Jr., Windsor (1st team); Caleigh Michael, Sr., Mullen (2nd team); Caroline Noonan
, Jr., Valor Christian (2nd team); Karly Sandoval, Sr., Lewis-Palmer (1st team); Adalyn Vergara, Jr., Windsor (2nd team).Class 3A
Kent Denver finished 2016 on an 11-game winning streak, including four postseason victories in which the Sun Devils outscored their opponents 13-3. DiGuilio had 19 goals and nine assists as a junior, and Shelby Schumacher
had 13 goals and 12 assists. Both are back this season, along with junior Emma Billings
(10 goals in 2016).
Kent Denver dropped its opener to 4A's The Classical Academy, and the 3A Region 6 (Metro League) is loaded with the likes of Colorado Academy and Jefferson Academy (Broomfield)
– two of the final four teams a year ago.
The other semifinalist was The Academy (Westminster)
, a program which has won at least 13 games in each of the six previous seasons. Alexis Loera
was a first-team all-state pick as a junior after scoring 15 goals and adding nine assists.
Vail Mountain is an intriguing case as well. After claiming a second 2A title, the Gore Rangers jumped a classification. The team had three first-team all-state picks at 2A who were underclassmen last spring in Tess Johnson, Emma Hall and Anwyn Urquhart.
Defending state champion:
Kent DenverState Championship:
7 p.m. May 23 at Dick's Sporting Goods ParkReturning all-state players: Jennika Chapman
, Sr., Jefferson Academy (1st team); Sidney Chong
, So., Kent Denver (2nd team); Sage DiGiulio, Sr., Kent Denver (1st team); Alexis Loera, Sr., The Academy (1st team); Brooklyn Mack
, Jr., Manitou Springs (1st team); Sarah Masinter, Sr., Colorado Academy (1st team); McKenna Monk
, Sr., Founain Valley (2nd team); Kristi Nagai
, Sr., Jefferson Academy; Anna Ponzio, Jr., Colorado Academy (2nd team); Shelby Schumacher, Sr., Kent Denver (1st team); Hannah Wilson, Sr., Colorado Springs Christian (2nd team).Class 2A
With Vail Mountain no longer in the 2A field, the question now is who moves into that top spot? Dawson School is likely the favorite, especially with Isenhart back in the mix. As a junior, Isenhart scored 39 goals and added 18 assists.Evangelical Christian (Colorado Springs)
and Front Range Christian (Littleton)
also made the semifinals. Evangelical Christian goalkeeper Maggie Kirkpatrick was an all-state selection, and the team's two leading scorers – Brie Karlstrum and April Mann – combined for 24 goals as juniors.
Defending State Champion:
Vail Mountain (now in 3A)State Championship:
5 p.m. on May 23 at Dick's Sporting Goods ParkReturning all-state players:
Emma Hall, Jr., Vail Mountain (1st team); Hannah Isenhart, Sr., Dawson School (1st team); Tess Johnson, Jr., Vail Mountain (1st team); Maggie Kirkpatrick, Sr., Evangelical Christian (1st team); April Mann, Sr., Evangelical Christian (1st team); Samantha O'Brien
, Jr., Clear Creek (1st team); Anwyn Urquhart, So., Vail Mountain (1st team).