MANITOU SPRINGS — The Manitou Springs girls soccer team had been scored on just once all season. When Jennifer Ellis netted a goal in the first half to put Aspen up 1-0, the Skiers felt every bit of momentum.
They rode that momentum to a a 5-1 win over the No. 2 Mustangs to advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A girls soccer tournament.
Aspen basically had one general theory in mind from the start of the game. Keeping in mind that every team at this point in any postseason is a good team, that meant that Aspen stood just as much a chance to advance as Manitou did. Striking early and getting a lead proved crucial to proving that theory correct.
"We came into the game the way we go into every game," coach Chris Ellis said. "We knew how we wanted to play, we knew what we wanted to do and we executed the task. We've trained very hard all season in preparation for these kinds of occasions."
Controlling the tempo of the game was crucial in getting the upset win and getting the first goal was the key piece in getting that control.
After both sides spent time feeling each other out, it was the Skiers (7-3-1 overall) struck first on a goal from Jennifer Ellis. Putting the Mustangs (10-1) on their heels early changed the entire feel of the game.
"It makes them very uncomfortable," she said. "I think it's quite shocking for them to go down that quickly when they've given up just one goal all season."
And it was far from the last that the Mustangs would give up on the night.
Aspen kept pressing offensively and seemingly got every bounce as Zea Anderson made it 2-0 by chipping the ball over Manitou keeper Caroline Meastas.
It took less than two minutes into the second half for the Skiers to add a third goal and stretch out the lead. Rather than sit on a two-goal lead going into the final 40 minutes, they decided to continue pressing the attack.
"It's important but it's also fun," Anderson said. "We wanted to get more goals and keep racking it up and keep up that pressure. It's more about the fun of the game and the beauty of the game."
And when the result is a win over the No. 2 team in the tournament, it can make for a fun bus ride home.
"I'm looking forward to it," Anderson said. "I'm excited to have fun with my teammates and to celebrate a win."
The Mustangs avoided the shutout as Sophie McKeown netted a goal late in the second half, but the game was well out of reach at that point.
The Skiers won't have long to celebrate as they'll head to Denver on Saturday to take on Colorado Academy.