WINDSOR -- The temperature was dropping, the wind was swirling, rain was pouring, and bolts were striking under ominous clouds. The Windsor girls soccer team overcame two half-hour delays, one rainstorm, one rescheduling -- and Palisade -- to claim a 2-1 victory in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
In a game originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Windsor’s Bailey Zehr found net first. Zehr controlled possession, then used her speed in the open field to blow by two defenders. Palisade’s goalkeeper, Katie Dunn, sprinted out and Zehr nestled the ball into the right corner to give Windsor a 1-0 lead ten minutes into the game.
Kelsey Steffens gave the Wizards a 2-0 margin eight minutes later after scoring off a deflected shot.
Then, the delays began. The first lasted for 30 minutes before the teams resumed play for the rest of the half and into the second as lightning waned. But the school’s athletic directors were forced to call another delay with 33 minutes left in the second half. The storm rolled in, causing the game to be postponed to 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
“It was very challenging to keep the girls focused, especially after you get an early 2-0 lead,” Windsor coach Mario Garcia said. “I think if it had been 1-0, their minds would have been more in it. It makes you relax a little bit. At the end of the day, we’re talking about human nature. The psychology of knowing you’re up, you can relax a little bit, and (Palisade) played hard.”
The Palisade Bulldogs were the aggressors Thursday. They had several opportunities early and often for goals throughout the game, but were finally able to convert as Audrey Rose Kachin scored off a through ball with 15 minutes left, giving Palisade life.
Windsor’s defense was out of sorts as the Bulldogs threatened to tie the game late, but the Wizards gained possession, stalled, and ran out the clock the last two minutes to secure a second round bid with a 2-1 survival.
Garcia and his players seemed more relieved than anything about winning the bizarre playoff opener.
“I think we could have played better, but I’m just glad we made it out in the end,” Zehr said. “We honestly just need to play as a team. That’s always been our problem is not staying consistent and not playing as a team. We have great individual players, but playing together, like working passes and playing up the field as a team, is what we struggle with.”
“It’s all about getting the win, however you get it,” Garcia noted.
Windsor, now 14-2 this season, will be making its third trip in four years to the round of 16, but have yet to advance to the quarterfinals during that stretch.
They have their hands full Saturday at 2 seeded Broomfield, 10-0 winners over Kennedy in the first round and last year’s state runner-up. The game will be held at 10 a.m.
“Playing Broomfield will be a different kind of animal,” Garcia said. “We’ll have to be very, very prepared to have a game, to make it a game. I think we’ll be ready.”
“I know they have four or five girls who are signed to play D-I somewhere,” Garcia added. “It’s kind of like a David vs. Goliath type match, but we play the game because anything can happen.
"We’ll have to be special that day to win. We’ll have to play defense like we’ve never played before. Everyone will have to play their assignment, their position and we’ll have to play with heart.”
Windsor already overcame one storm. The Wizards hope to work their magic and outlast another, the powerful Broomfield Eagles, on Saturday.