DENVER — The Class 3A girls soccer semifinals has not been friendly to Jefferson Academy the last two years.
After reaching the state championship game in 2015, the only one in program history, the Jags lost to Kent Denver in the 2016 semis and Peak to Peak last year.
They finally came away with a win on Saturday to return to Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Jefferson Academy got a second-half goal from Kristen Capan to get a 1-0 win over Aspen at All-City Stadium in Denver.
"Our girls had a lot of burden on their shoulders," coach Denise Sutton said. "This is the third time here. We really wanted to win this."
The first half once again gave the Jags (16-2-1 overallreason for worry though. Aspen came out strong with a constant attack that was good enough to get them wins over The Academy and Lutheran. Freshman Kelley Francis showed off her speed, constantly blitzing past the Jefferson Academy defenders.
But through the first 40 minutes of the game, the Skiers (14-5) had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. When the teams went into halftime, it was the Jags who knew they had to get things corrected in order to avoid a third-straight loss in the semis.
"They did a lot of talking," Sutton said. "I don't like 10-minute halftimes. I like three-minute halftimes. (They knew) it's just another game. It's going to be okay."
In the first minute of the second half, they nearly broke the scoreless tie. Aspen keeper Ella Trane deselected a shot, but couldn't hang on to it, and the Jags swarmed and had a look at the open net. Aspen defender Maddy Bergdahl was in the right place at the right time and deflected the shot away.
In the 64th minute, a similar situation presented itself for the Jags, but this one had different results. A free kick from Bridget Lynch got in front of the net and Capan found it on her foot with the net open in front of her.
"I was scared I was going to kick it over," she said. "I knew I just had to keep it as low as possible."
The one goal held up and the Jags will make the second-ever appearance in the 3A title game. They lost 1-0 to Colorado Academy in 2015.
(3) Kent Denver 1, (2) Colorado Academy 0
Sofia Palumbo's corner kick couldn't have been placed any better. And Emma Billings couldn't have been standing in a better spot.
Billings headed Palumbo's kick into the net in the 34th minute of Saturday's semifinal game, giving Kent Denver a 1-0 win over Colorado Academy and a date with Jefferson Academy on Tuesday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The Sun Devils (16-1-1 overall) beat the Jags 1-0 earlier in the year.
But before they look ahead to that, they had to get through league rival Colorado Academy. The game shifted back and forth with possession in the first half, although Annabelle Johnson did her best to get Kent in a position to score early.
But it was Billings who got the Sun Devils on the board from DeGiulio's corner.
Riley DeGiulio almost made it a 2-0 game a few minutes later, but her shot skidded wide of the Colorado Academy net.
The Mustangs (14-3-1) had their best look to tie the game in the second half. Britt Lochhead had the ball in an open slot on the right side of the net and tried to hit the back-low corner of the goal, but her shot was wide.
Colorado Academy had another good look later in the second half, but Mika Fisher made the biggest save of the game, effectively sealing the win for the Sun Devils.
Kent Denver missed out on a trip to the state title game last year, but was last there two years ago where they beat Colorado Academy 3-1 to win their fifth state soccer title.