COLORADO SPRINGS — Potential thunderstorms had threatened the Pikes Peak region all day on Tuesday. But the only kind of strike that mattered was Athena Keuhn’s early goal.
Keuhn scored less than two minutes after the start of play, and it was Pine Creek that came away with a 1-0 over Prairie View to advance to the second round of the Class 5A girls soccer playoffs.
Her goal came as Thunderhawks keeper Savannah Watts got caught in no man’s land away from the net. All Keuhn needed was to get the ball by Watts and it would trickle into the net.
She did, and the Eagles (12-4 overall) took the lead.
“I wasn't expecting her to come out that far” Keuhn said. "I just kicked that one and hoped for the best."
To her credit, from that point on, Watts was brilliant in the net. She had to be. Pine Creek dominated control of the ball in the first half, grabbing scoring chances almost at will.
But after surrendering one, Watts could not have rebounded any better.
"I though she did amazing," Thunderhawks coach Jason Oulman said. "I think that first goal was just kind of a fluke. It was more us than them, even though they did great. But she did a great job of keeper nose in the game."
The Thunderhawks (15-1) just couldn’t find any offensive rhythm to help her. And the Eagles were not about to let Prairie View forward Madison Kemp have anything that resembled a good look at the net.
Kylie Kapustka, Kelsie Knoezer and Myah Isais provided a solid back line that didn’t give the Thunderhawks’ leading scorer any room to operate.
“We knew she was going to be physical,” Isais said. "We wanted to make it so she would always receive the ball backwards and then we would have a midfielder drop back."
Frustration finally boiled over for Kemp, who was assessed a yellow card with 17:29 left on the clock.
"I think she felt like she was getting hacked a bit," Oulman said. "So I think she tried to hack back. That's what happens, but that's what we love about her. She goes hard and she doesn't stop."
The Eagles, meanwhile, were intent on maintaining their style of play. With a 1-0 lead and Prairie View unable to generate a lot of offense, it seemed like the best approach to take.
“Our game plan was to not give them time,” Eagles coach John Frederick said. "They're used to winning and they had been down I think once all year. We knew if we scored on them quick, that we could put pressure on their midfield."
Isais added the final goal for Pine Creek with 7:36 left in the game and the feeling of advancement washed over the home crowd at District 20 Stadium.
Next up is a showdown with last year's state runner-up in Mountain Vista. The Golden Eagles beat Pine Creek 4-2 just over a week ago. Frederick knows that his team needs to a better job of converting on their chances.
"There was a point with about 10 minutes left that we had 38 shot attempts," he said. "I'm sure we had about 40 shot attempts and only half of them were on goal. So we need to work on getting the ball down and finishing our opportunities."
The second round of the 5A tournament is scheduled to be played on May 12.