Evergreen reigns in all-Jeffco showdown with Wheat Ridge in girls soccer quarterfinals

Evergreen junior Alex Mason (9) battles to get a shot off during the 4A quarterfinal Wednesday night at Lakewood Memorial Field. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Finishing in a downpour was appropriate for Evergreen’s girls soccer team Wednesday night Lakewood Memorial Field.

The rain cleansed the No. 7-seeded Cougars (12-6 record) from a frustrating 2-1 loss against Wheat Ridge during conference play more than a month ago. Evergreen washed away that defeat by flipping the script with a 2-1 win over the No. 2 Farmers in an all-Jeffco 4A state quarterfinal.

“It’s means so much,” Evergreen junior Sydney Westgard said of defeating rival Wheat Ridge. “The tables were kind of turned. They beat us 2-1 and now we beat them 2-1. It feels amazing to beat them.”

Westgard gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 33rd minute. The junior forward rocketed a shot past Wheat Ridge sophomore goalie Logan Duford after a pass from junior Lauryn Jeans.

Evergreen's Sydney Westgard scored the first goal for the Cougars. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I think it was all about composure when the ball was crossed,” Westgard said of her goal. “I just took a couple of touches to get past a few (defenders). I took a nice composed shot to the lower bottom corner because I know that’s a hard ball for the goalie in this kind of weather.”

The goal allowed Evergreen to take a 1-0 lead into halftime before heavy rain poured down for the majority of the second half.

“That play we found an open player and some space,” Evergreen coach Peter Jeans said of the Cougars’ first goal. “Lauryn Jeans made the perfect pass to Sydney. Sydney was able to thread a beautiful finish.”

Evergreen’s second goal came off a penalty kick. Senior Elise Adreon was taken down in the Farmers’ goalie box in the first minute of the second half. Lauryn Jeans, the coach’s daughter, buried the PK to extend the Cougars’ lead to 2-0.

“It was a tough way to start the second half,” Wheat Ridge coach Dan Watkins said of giving up the PK. “But, I’m super proud of how our girls competed. It’s a fantastic group.”

Wheat Ridge's Rylie Pachello (15) and Evergreen's Sofia Weiner (14) battle. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Wheat Ridge (15-3) didn’t go quietly in the final minutes. Wheat Ridge senior Alex Nillen scored on a breakaway goal in the 76th minute to cut the Cougars’ lead in half.

“We probably needed to get it a little sooner,” Watkins said of Nillen’s goal with four minutes to play. “That is the type of character this group has. They fought to the finish. We just ran out of time against a good team.”

In the conference battle between Wheat Ridge and Evergreen on April 13, Nillen put in a pair of second-half goals to give Wheat Ridge a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

The Cougars proceeded to lose three more regular-season games after the loss to the Farmers, but came in red-hot with big postseason wins over Discovery Canyon and Standley Lake. Evergreen has outscored its playoff opponents 11-2.

Evergreen's McKenna Norton (3) attempts to elude Wheat Ridge's Kyra Midroy. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“This is great,” Jeans said of making the semifinals. “We haven’t been to the semifinals since 1997 when my assistant coach (Alexis Thomas) was on the team.”

Evergreen went on to claim its second girls soccer title 20 years ago with a 5-4 victory over Air Academy in the championship game. The Cougars’ other girls soccer championship came in 1990.

Next up for Evergreen is a trip to EchoPark Stadium in Parker for the 4A state semifinals Saturday, May 20. The Cougars face No. 6 Windsor, who upset defending state champion Lewis-Palmer 3-2 on Wednesday in another quarterfinal game in Colorado Springs.

“At this point every time is really good,” Coach Jeans said. “We just look forward to get to the state semifinals. It will be another great match.”

Three Jeffco League teams — Valor, D'Evelyn and Evergreen — makes up the four semifinalist in the 4A girls soccer state tournament. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)