LAKEWOOD — Winning the Class 4A girls soccer state championship isn’t going to be easy, but after Evergreen swept through the tough 4A Jeffco League this spring the task of taking state is clearly within reach.
“It’s really gratifying,” said Evergreen coach Peter Jeans on Wednesday night after the Cougars defeated Wheat Ridge 2-1 at Lakewood Memorial Field. “The girls really had to focus each game. You can’t let down in this league. There are a lot of very challenging teams and they beat them all. That is very hard to do.”
Evergreen — No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com 4A rankings — completed a 9-0 record in the deepest conference in 4A. The Cougars outscored their opponents 49-4 this season, that includes a forfeit victory over Alameda International.
“You hope it helps,” Jeans said of the conference gauntlet the Cougars went through that included 1-goals wins over Golden, D’Evelyn and Wheat Ridge. “The mental toughness and we’ve seen a lot of adversity.”
Evergreen dominated possession early against No. 9 Wheat Ridge (7-3, 6-3). The Cougars put in their first goal off a corner kick from senior Jocelin Zimmerer in the 17th minute. Freshman Brooke Gimbel was able to get her head on the corner kick from Zimmerer for the opening goal.
The Cougars extended the lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute with junior Elizabeth Rapp feathering a shot over Wheat Ridge junior goalie Ariel Martin.
“I just wanted to put on in,” Rapp said of her goal. “I saw the goalie was way off her line so I chipped it in.”
Wheat Ridge did make the final minutes interesting. A low hard shot from senior Jessica Brummett found the back of the net for her 12th goal of the season in the 77th minute to make it a 2-1 game.
However, Evergreen was able to hold on to the victory and end the hopes of the Farmers on making the postseason. Wheat Ridge dropped it last three conference games to Golden, D’Evelyn and Evergreen.
“I think that actually focused us more,” Rapp said of the Cougars having already wrapped up the conference title heading into the league finale against Wheat Ridge. “We want to go into the playoffs 10-0 to make a statement that we are here to win it all.”
Golden (8-1-1, 7-1-1) will grab the other automatic bid out of 4A Jeffco for the 16-team state tournament. The state pairing a scheduled to be released on Sunday, June 13. First-round game will be Wednesday, June 16.
Evergreen has come close to winning a state title over the past four seasons. The Cougars were 4A state runner-up in 2017 and 2019. League rival D’Evelyn edged Evergreen 1-0 four years ago at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Two years ago Cheyenne Mountain defeated the Cougars 2-1 in the title game.
“They know they did a lot right that year, but they also came up one goal short,” Jeans said of the 2019 state tournament run. “Obviously they are motivated for that not to happen again.”
The three top scorers — senior Myla Stewart, Catherine Rapp and Elizabeth Rapp — from the 2019 team are the three top goal scorers for the Cougars this year.
“I think that will be key,” Elizabeth Rapp said of the playoff experience from two years ago. “We have become so close as a team. We were really young as freshmen two years ago.”
Confidence is definitely high for the Cougars heading into the postseason.
“We relish being No. 1 because we deserve that,” Elizabeth Rapp said. “We want teams to know that they have to come out strong against us to take us out of the playoffs.”