Aspen girls soccer does it again, knocks off Lutheran to reach state semifinals
So much about the setup, from illness to another long road trip, was not in the Aspen High School girls soccer team’s favor in Wednesday’s 3A state quarterfinal game at Lutheran. But when the magic is on your side, as it has been for the Skiers this postseason, somehow all those other factors don’t matter.
Ignoring the seeds, Aspen came out and pulled off its second upset in as many games, beating the No. 5 seed Lions, 4-3, in Parker.
“They won it comfortably. They really did,” AHS coach John Gillies said.
“I thought everything was against us. We had three players drop out because of sickness. But the girls off the bench stepped up. Everything was great. So proud of them all.”
Aspen, only the tournament’s No. 13 seed, finds itself as one of only four teams still playing in Class 3A this season. The Skiers will next play Saturday at No. 1 seed Jefferson Academy in the state semifinals, with a spot in Tuesday’s championship game on the line. The AHS girls have never played in the state title game.
They are one win away from that becoming reality thanks to freshman sensation Kelley Francis. Needing only one goal to tie the school’s single-season scoring mark, Francis scored all four goals for the Skiers in the win over Lutheran.
She now has 32 goals this season, breaking the old record of 29 held by Jennifer Worcester from the early ‘90s.
“It feels really great. I wasn’t really expecting to score four goals this game,” Francis said. “I hadn’t been scoring lately, but I had a lot of great plays from my teammates, so I think it was really great to beat the record in the quarterfinals.”
Aspen trailed 1-0 at halftime against Lutheran before Francis became electric in the second half. Three straight goals by the Skier phenom made it 3-1 before the Lions got one back. Trying to avoid a third straight overtime game in the playoffs, Francis then made it 4-2, Lutheran’s third and final goal coming with only 15 seconds to play.
“That was the longest 15 seconds of my life,” Gillies joked.
As the No. 13 seed, Aspen is certainly the semifinal outlier. Saturday’s opponent, No. 1 Jefferson Academy, beat No. 9 Colorado Springs Christian in their quarterfinal game, 7-0.
The other semifinal game is a more traditional 2 vs. 3 matchup. No. 3 Kent Denver, which ended Basalt’s season in the second round, clobbered No. 6 Manitou Springs 8-0 in the semis. No. 2 Colorado Academy held off No. 23 Vail Mountain in the fourth quarterfinal game, winning 3-2.
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