Ralston Valley defeats Columbine in all-Jeffco girls soccer state quarterfinal

Ralston Valley players celebrate the goal of senior Sarah Piper late in the first half Wednesday at Lakewood Memorial Field. The goal held up as the Mustangs defeated rival Columbine 1-0 to advance to Saturday's state semifinals at Echo Park in Parker. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Sarah Piper admitted she got a little lucky late Wednesday afternoon at Lakewood Memorial Field.

“Sometimes you get a little lucky,” Piper said about scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory for No. 14-seeded Ralston Valley over No. 11 Columbine in a Class 5A girls soccer state quarterfinal at Lakewood Memorial Field. “Today we got a little lucky and sometimes you need that.”

Ralston Valley senior Sarah Piper (14) lines up to take a free kick that would eventually find the back of the net. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The Ralston Valley senior midfielder took a direct-free kick in the final seconds of the first half. Piper faced a three-person wall, but before taking the kick saw a bit of any opening.

“It’s funny I’m not a free-kick taker, but anytime I shoot it’s normally with my left foot,” Piper said. “I knew I could probably bend it and I saw the keeper move toward the far post. I figured I could bend it over the wall and see what happens. I got a little lucky.”

Piper’s shot bent over the wall and toward the near post. Columbine junior goalie Elizabeth Michael was in position to make the save moving toward the post, but the ball slipped through her and into the net.

“The game of soccer is you work hard and sometimes you get lucky,” Ralston Valley coach Kamee Morwood said of the goal with eight seconds left in the first half held up. “It was a great shot and we got a little lucky on it, but we continued to play well to finish out the game.”

Ralston Valley (13-2-2 record) faces the winner of No. 7 Chatfield and No. 2 Grandview in the state semifinals scheduled for Saturday, May 18, at Echo Park in Parker. The Chargers and Wolves started their quarterfinal game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

Ralston Valley freshman Madison Schwartz (3) attempts to settle a ball to her feet during a state quarterfinal game against Columbine. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The Mustangs could face another Jeffco rival in Chatfield. Their 5A Jeffco League meeting ended in a scoreless tie early this season.

“Maybe it’s the comeback tour. I don’t know,” Morwood said of the chance of facing Chatfield in the semifinals. “We just come to play.”

The first meeting between Columbine and Ralston Valley ended with the Rebels scoring two second-half goals at Lakewood Memorial for a 2-0 victory. Freshman Riley Kaali-Nagy and junior Peyton Weber had a goal and assist each to account for Columbine’s scoring.

“There were both really close games,” Piper said comparing the two meeting. “I think both games could have gone either way.”

Since the loss, Ralston Valley went 6-0-1 coming into Wednesday’s quarterfinal. The Mustangs knocked off No. 3 Fruita Monument in the second round out on the Western Slope with a 1-0 win.

“It’s so fun. These girls have worked so hard, as have (Columbine). We knew it was going to be an emotional battle between teams,” Morwood said. “It’s always hard when you go in and play a rival in this kind of a game.”

Columbine senior Tessa Barton (2) makes a run while being marked by Ralston Valley senior Sophie Moran (8) at Lakewood Memorial Field (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Columbine (15-5-1) also needed a road victory to advance to the quarterfinals. The Rebels upset No. 6 Regis Jesuit in the second round to set up the all-Jeffco quarterfinal.

The game saw the end of a brilliant prep soccer career of Columbine senior Tessa Barton, who will play for the University of Colorado next school year. Barton had 24 goals on the season and finished her career with 57 tallies.

Ralston Valley senior defender Sophie Moran was up to the task of keeping Barton from getting on the scoresheet.

“It was hard, but I’ve been up against her (Barton) before and I know how to do it,” Moran said of marking one of the elite goal scorers in the state over the past four years.

The Mustangs are in position to get back to the 5A title game. Ralston Valley advanced to the championship game against Columbine back in 2014, losing to the Rebels 3-1.

“It means everything and beating (Columbine) makes it that much more special,” Moran said of advancing to the semifinals.

The lone goal by Ralston Valley senior Sarah Piper (14) sent the Mustangs into Saturday's state semifinal Saturday at Echo Park in Parker. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)