ARVADA -- Columbine sophomore Kelcey Cavarra described her game-winning goal Tuesday night as “fluky.”
“I got all the right skips and all the right players moved out of the way. It was perfect,” Cavarra said of her direct free kick in the 68th minute that somehow slipped past a throng of players and into the back of the net in the Class 5A girls soccer state quarterfinal at the North Area Athletic Complex.
Cavarra’s goal gave the No. 8-seeded Rebels a 2-1 lead. Columbine added a goal a minute later against No. 17 seed Doherty to advance the Rebels into the semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday at Englewood High School.
The 5A Jeffco League champion Columbine (15-3 record) faces defending 5A state champion Mountain Vista (15-1-2) in the semifinals. The Golden Eagles blanked Fairview 2-0 on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium.
Columbine punched its ticket to the final four thanks to a late second-half surge. Doherty had plenty of momentum after junior Janine Lahey headed in the game-tying goal in the 45th minute, knotting the game up at 1-1.
“The pressure was definitely on,” Cavarra said after the Spartans tied the game. “I think it kind of motivated us to get even better. I know I was getting pretty mad and angry, but I was trying to keep it positive and do everything to get that one (goal).”
Doherty was called for a handball outside its goalie box moments after Columbine junior goalie Sarah Luebking came up with a big save on a free kick from Doherty junior Madison Furbush in the 66th minute.
Cavarra lined up to take the Rebels’ direct free kick near Columbine’s bench. Rebels’ coach Brian Todd had a great vantage point to watch Cavarra’s kick regain the lead for the Rebels.
“The most interesting thing on the free kick was Doherty chose to put a lot of traffic in front of its own goalkeeper. We had a few shirts in there as well,” Todd said. “With all that crowd and mess it was obvious Kelcey was just going to put something on goal and hope for a deflection. It was a well struck ball and ended up in the back of the net.”
Less than a minute after Cavarra’s shot got past Doherty freshman goalie Riley Furbush the Rebels pushed their lead to 3-1. Sophomore Tatum Barton was able to feed a ball to freshman Amanda Porter who worked the ball past Furbush and into the back of the net.
“That was just like Doherty’s goal, a hardworking, effort goal,” Todd said of Columbine’s insurance goal in the 69th minute. “It was opportunistic on our part. That literally put the game away with not a lot of time left.”
Cavarra’s and Porter’s tallies were their 10th goal each of the season. Barton scored her 25th goal of the year on the lone goal in the first half that gave Columbine a 1-0 lead at halftime.
“It was crazy. I thought we played a great first half. We were dominating and created a ton of opportunities,” Todd said. “We really owned the first half, but just came away with that one goal.”
Todd admitted his squad played “cautious and tight” hanging onto the one-goal lead in the second half, but was pleased how his team responded after Doherty’s goal.
“We were really composed as a team,” Luebking said. “We played our game and do what we do.”
Columbine will have some Jeffco company in the semifinals. Ralston Valley upset No. 2 seed Rock Canyon by a 3-0 score in another quarterfinal Tuesday at Shea Stadium. Ralston Valley will face Pine Creek in the other semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday at Englewood High School.
“It’s really good,” Cavarra said of two Jeffco teams advancing to the state semifinals. “I know a lot of people doubt the Jeffco League. It’s really good to show everyone we are here to play and we can compete with the top schools in the state.”
While the Rebels have a pretty young roster with several underclassmen Todd wants his squad to take advantage of this year’s opportunity.
“We are young, but our goal is to win a state championship,” Todd said. “We aren’t just happy and content in getting to the final four.”