DENVER — At Dawson, the girls soccer program has adopted a saying: "Fourth time's a charm."
Now, the Mustangs have one more step to prove that to be true.
Dawson, seeded No. 1 in the state tournament, topped No. 4 Crested Butte 3-0 on Wednesday in the semifinals at All-City Stadium. It will be the program's fourth consecutive appearance in a championship game, and fifth overall. They've never won a title.
"We've been saying, 'Fourth time's a charm,'" said Dawson junior Cameron Epstein, who scored two goals. "We have a great group of girls this year, and we all want to win so badly — for kids who have not won in the past, for seniors who have left, and just because we've all worked so hard to get there."
Said Dawson coach David Criswell: "They were so motivated to get there after the last three years, and they've been playing and practicing so hard. I'm so proud of them."
Epstein gave Dawson an early spark with a goal from in close in the game's first five minutes.
"I think that was a really important goal, just because our team really thrived off the momentum," said Epstein, who now has three goals in the postseason, and 11 this year.
Added Criswell: "She's such an aggressive player and so quick, and she used that to her advantage here."
Epstein added another midway through the second half to put an exclamation point on the win.
Kaitlyn Day also scored for Dawson, adding to the lead with a goal 8:34 into the second half.
This is the fourth consecutive season that Dawson has advanced to the championship game, meaning the Mustangs have appeared in every 2A girls soccer title game that's ever been played. It will be the program's fifth overall appearance — they also went to the 3A championship in 2009.
Crested Butte keeper Rachel Potoker was big for her team all game, and kept the Titans within striking distance.
(2) Denver Christian 2, (3) Fountain Valley 1
The returning state champions will get a crack at defending their title.
Though, they needed some dramatics to get there.
Grace Phillipps headed home what proved to be the winning goal with two minutes to play to lift No. 2 Denver Christian to a 3-2 win over No. 3 Fountain Valley.
Phillipps' goal came off a great set piece from Miranda Kortenhoeven, who took a long free kick from near midfield. Phillipps got to the ball in the box to deflect it just past the Fountain Valley keeper.
The Thunder, who won the program's fourth state championship last season, grabbed a 2-0 lead when Hally Herder headed home a pass from Kortenhoeven ten minutes in. Kortenhoeven followed that with a beautiful free kick goal that bent into the top right corner a few minutes after that.
Before Denver Christian could finish celebrating its second goal, Fountain Valley's Eryn Mitchell cut the lead in half.
Fountain Valley knotted the game at 2 with eight minutes to go in regulation when Ani Love scored on a long free kick of her own.
But Denver Christian responded in dramatic fashion minutes later, and punched its return ticket to the title game.
Denver Christian's win sets up a rematch in the state championship game. Last season, Denver Christian beat Dawson 4-3.
This year's 2A title game will be played at 5 p.m. next Tuesday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Dawson and Denver Christian met earlier this season, a 4-1 Dawson win on April 18.