COLORADO SPRINGS — With spring playoff season closer with May having arrived, the temperatures in Colorado are struggling to warm up.
On the girls soccer field, however, the Rampart Rams refuse to cool down. The regular season is set to end on Saturday and the Rams have been hot all year. With a 3-2 win over The Classical Academy on Wednesday night, their record improved to 13-0, just two wins shy of completing an undefeated season. Not bad for a team currently ranked fourth in the Class 5A CHSAANow.com soccer poll.
It has everyone at the school ranging from teachers to fans to the players themselves wondering what this team is capable of when the 5A state tournament begins.
"We hope to surprise (everyone), the Denver teams especially," coach Carisa Whitson said. "The Colorado Springs teams don't get enough credit at times. It's nice that Rampart has been in the news a little bit more and it's all because of the girls. They've worked really hard the last couple of years to get to where we are. We're excited to be in this position and hope to make a run in the playoffs."
She's not lying. The girls have played sound soccer and even taken advantage of a lucky bounce or two this season.
The Rams have a trio of consistent scorers in Grace McReynolds, Kaitlyn Wilcox and Joey Garrett. McReynolds leads the team with 10 goals on the season while Wilcox and Garrett each have eight.
It was Wilcox - with an assist from Garrett - who got the game-winner Wednesday against TCA.
Rampart has no problem sharing the ball amongst each other because at the end of the day, this isn't a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. These girls are friends who are looking to do something special together.
"We all know each other so well and we're so close on and off the field," Garrett said. "There's no real separate groups, we're all together. I think that correlates on the field and helps us win and be successful."
This is something that Whitson has noticed over the course of the last few seasons. Just two years ago, the majority of this year's lineup roamed the halls of Rampart High School as wide-eyed freshmen or as sophomores just looking for where they fit in the high school hierarchy.
There was no question about where they would one day rank on the soccer field. In 2017, the Rams went 11-5. They improved to 13-3 last year, but suffered the same season-ending fate - a first-round playoff loss.
They've learned. And they've used those lessons and their connection on the field
"They just don't quit," Whitson said. "They have a ton of perseverance and the relationships that they've built with this group since freshman/sophomore year has made this group tight. They really connect. They connect on the field, they have relationships off the field, they do quite a few team bonding events so I think that's really helped us get to the point where we're at."
What's kept the Rams undefeated is an strong balance on the field. They can certainly score goals as their 58 ranks third in 5A as a team. But their ability to keep opponents out of the net has played a major role as well. Prior to the game against TCA, keeper Katlyn Rosenbaum had allowed just four goals all year and recorded eight shutouts.
She sees her friends doing their part up front so she knows that she needs to match that effort when manning the net.
"I want to help our team achieve our goal of getting past the first round of the playoffs," she said. "The only way to do that is to keep as many of those little shots away from the goal as possible."
Mission accomplished so far, but things are going to get a tad more difficult as the state tournament is set to begin next week.
With teams like Grandview and Mountain Vista consistently in the state title picture, fans already know plenty about those programs. It looks like a lot of people are going to start learning some things about Rampart in the coming weeks.
But what's the most important thing they need to know?
"That we're going to win state," Garrett said.
That means the team just needs to stay hot. And if it can syphon some of that temperature into the Colorado weather, all the better.