The Class 4A girls soccer state champions were officially dethroned May 18 at a rainy Trailblazer Stadium.
No. 2-seeded Dakota Ridge took down No. 6 Northfield — defending 4A champs — in a 1-0 shutout victory in the first of two semifinals in Lakewood.
Dakota Ridge had a chance to do something it hasn’t done in 20 years, capture a girls soccer state championship. The Eagles were scheduled to play for the 4A championship at Tuesday, May 23 (after press deadline) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
The Eagles were scheduled to face No. 1 Lutheran.
Dakota Ridge senior Kassidy Spencer made the biggest save of her short goalie career against Northfield.
“I’ve never saved a PK (penalty kick) in my life,” Spencer said after the 1-0 shutout victory over Northfield. “Last year was my first year playing goalie. It felt so good.”
It looked like the Nighthawks (15-4 record) would be tying up the game 1-1 midway through the second half. Northfield’s best scoring chance came in the 53rd minute. The 4A Jeffco League MVP — Dakota Ridge senior defender Jordan Whiteaker — was called for a foul on Northfield senior Samantha Burrows in the goal box.
A penalty kick was awarded to Northfield, but Spencer made the save on a hard shot by junior Betza Contreras to preserve the 1-0 lead.
“She is a really good goalkeeper,” Dakota Ridge coach John Cassidy said of Spencer. “Maybe now people will believe it.”
Northfield had some good pressure midway through the first half. Spencer made a couple of solid saves to keep the game scoreless.
The Eagles (17-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute with a nifty redirection from senior Bailey Pignatore off a pass from senior Hannah Arnold.
“I was just running toward the goal knowing Hannah had it, so I felt comfortable with her getting me the ball,” Pignatore said of the lone score of the game. “No matter what I was going to get something on it.”
It was Pignatore’s 17th goal and 8th assist for Arnold on the season.
“We are on this fairy-tail ride,” Cassidy said. “I just tell them to play and one of them comes up with the win somewhere. We are just enjoying it.”
Dakota Ridge has become an instant 4A state contender after dropping down from 5A for the current 2-year cycle. The Eagles went undefeated through the 4A Jeffco League and defeated conference rival Evergreen in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals.
Dakota Ridge were the 5A state champions 20 years ago when the Eagles defeated Green Mountain in an all-Jeffco title game. The last trip to the title came was in 2011 when Mountain Vista defeated the Eagles.
“I took the job and both teams (girls and boys) hadn’t won more than two or three games in 10 years,” Cassidy said. “But there are three state championships at the school. I said if there are state championships there will be more state championships.”
It will be the sixth time in the last seven 4A girls soccer state championship games that a Jeffco League team will be represented in the final.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.