COMMERCE CITY — It felt more like a brisk fall evening than one in mid-May as the No. 1 seed Colorado Academy and No. 3 seed Jefferson Academy took the field under the lights at Dicks Sporting Good Park.
And it felt a lot like last year for Colorado Academy.
The Mustangs beat Jefferson Academy 1-0 on Tuesday, marking their second-straight Class 3A championship and their fourth win of seven state title appearances. Last year, in nearly identical fashion, Colorado Academy beat The Classical Academy 1-0.
"It's been incredible to see the talent, skill, and dedication in this group. We love each other and its a huge part of our success," said Colorado Academy star Marin McCoy, a senior. "We push each other in practice, we all want to be better. It was such a pleasure to be part of this group, and what an amazing way to finish off my high school career."
Jefferson Academy made its debut appearance in the finals this season, and a strong one at that. The two teams matched up in late April, where the Mustangs walked away with a 6-1 win.
The Jaguars didn't let such a far gap build this time.
Under a cold mist and amid puffy-jacket-clad students and parents, the two teams shot skidding balls in the hopes of one slipping by.
Jefferson Academy took shots early, with a promising cross from forward Alycia Wright in the first few minutes. After the ball rattled the crossbar, giving Colorado Academy a good scare, the Mustangs took the ball into their feet. Colorado Academy's McCoy made moves past the defense and goaltender for a seemingly certain finish on an open goal, but popped it against the crossbar.
Shortly after, their time came as a beautiful pass from senior midfielder Julia Murphy floated over two Jefferson defenders and into the feet of McCoy, who made one step past the goaltender and tapped it into the goal with 21 minutes left in the half.
"We are best at controlling the ball and moving it around until its time to move it up from the back. We try not to get antsy," said McCoy.
Colorado Academy moved the ball around Jefferson's defense persistently, but was held to the single goal at the end of the half. In the second, the Jaguars defense came out stronger than before, stitching the holes and diving for rolling balls at the goal-line, ending Colorado Academy's opportunities.
Wright shot two rockets in the latter portion of the second half, whizzing just far of the post. But they ultimately came up short as time ticked away and the defending champs met victory again.
"Our goal was not to pretend to come out here and crush anybody. It was to be able to hang with them, and we did just that," said Jefferson Academy coach Denise Sutton. "And what a gift these seniors have given to the younger players — playing here, giving them this vision. That's what I love about this all."