Wheat Ridge girls soccer edges Discovery Canyon in tournament opener

Wheat Ridge senior Molly Kratzer (9) tries to breakaway from Discovery Canyon senior Eliana Garcia (2) during the first-round Class 4A girls soccer playoff game Wednesday at Lakewood Memorial Field. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Wheat Ridge senior Molly Kratzer was upbeat despite playing in some tough conditions Wednesday night in the opening round of the Class 4A girls soccer state tournament.

“I feel good,” Kratzer said despite sporting a black eye after a collision, along with being cold and soaking wet after the Farmers survived a first-round scare. “Really pumped and really excited. It was a good team win.”

Wheat Ridge freshman Emily Browne (3) collides with Discovery Canyon senior Eliana Garcia (2) during the first half Wednesday at Lakewood Memorial Field. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

No. 4-seeded Wheat Ridge managed a 1-0 victory over No. 29 Discovery Canyon in a constant rainstorm at Lakewood Memorial Field.

“That is a team that has been so great all year long,” Wheat Ridge coach Dan Watkins said about Discovery Canyon, a team the Farmers edged 2-1 in their season opener back in early March. “The (Pikes Peak League) is so tough. That have played fantastic tight games throughout their schedule. We knew it was going to be a tough one.”

In the driving rain, Kratzer scored the lone goal in the 61st minute to advance the Farmers (13-2-1 record) into the second round.

“We knew it would come,” Kratzer said of the eventual game-winning goal. “We were dominating and kept creating opportunities. We just needed to find that one that would go in.”

Kratzer nearly gave the Farmers a first-half lead, but a shot in the opening 20 minutes hit the far post and was cleared away before a Wheat Ridge player could put the ball into the net.

It took until midway through the second half before the Farmers could break the scoreless tie.

Wheat Ridge sophomore Jessica Brummett (5) advances the ball up the field in the first half Wednesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“I was just making a run and Tess (Hann) played me a beautiful ball,” Kratzer said. “My first touch I didn’t even mean to do it. It popped right over the center back’s head and I noticed the keeper wasn’t coming off her line.”

Kratzer kept dribbling and eventually slipped a low shot into the corner of the net. It was the senior’s 25 goal on the season.

“She was just fighting to spring away,” Watkins said of what he saw on Kratzer’s goal. “She got through and then calmly tucked it away. That is what you expect someone like her to do. It was a great finish.”

Wheat Ridge senior goalie Logan Duford grabbed her fourth shutout in net on the season.

“We’ve played in these conditions before,” Duford said. “We knew the ball would skip and we didn’t want an unlucky goal to end our playoff run because we are better than that. We played really well even in these conditions.”

Wheat Ridge sophomore Jessica Brummett (5) and Discovery Canyon sophomore Grace Thompson (7) battle for a loose ball Wednesday night at Lakewood Memorial Field. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Watkins was pleased with the growth of his young defensive core in front of Duford.

“Under these conditions you have to be disciplined,” Watkins said. “That is the kind of growth I’ve seen from our back this season. They have got more experience and more comfortable. They did a great job today dealing with those skipped balls and getting behind the ball. It was a top-notch job by our backline and Logan as well.”

Next up for the Farmers is No. 13 Holy Family. The Tigers defeated George Washington 3-1 on Wednesday night in another first-round game.

“We played them (Holy Family) the last couple of cycles, but kind of parted ways with them,” Watkins said of past non-league games against the Tigers. “They are a great program, well-organized, well-coached and with a ton of talent.”

The game will be played Saturday at Lakewood Memorial Field. The time will be announced on Thursday.

“We are excited to still be playing,” Watkins said. “Holy Family is next up and we’ll get ourselves ready to go and get after them on Saturday.”

Discovery Canyon senior Sydney Kowalchuk (16) attempts to settle the ball in traffic Wednesday night at Lakewood Memorial Field. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)