Five seniors taking Glenwood Springs High girls soccer to new heights
As juniors on the 2017 Glenwood Springs High School girls soccer team, Devan McSwain, Eryn Peterson, Mo Reece, Claudia Hirons and Emma Harbour learned just what it takes to reach the 4A playoffs. Now, in their senior seasons, the five upperclassmen are leading the Demons to new heights.
Sitting one win away from clinching at least a share of the 4A Western Slope League, and currently sitting No. 4 in the 4A RPI rankings, Glenwood is closing in on its best season since 2012, when the Demons last won a league championship and last made the state playoffs prior to last season.
Thursday’s showdown with the Steamboat Springs Sailors at Stubler Memorial Field in Glenwood Springs could serve as a culmination of the last two years of hard work for not only the senior class, but the rest of a talented roster under third-year coach Joe Calabrese.
Knowing they’re so close to achieving a goal set back in November serves as enough motivation for the senior class.
“It’s definitely going to be a big test for us,” McSwain said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “We know we’ve been playing well, but we’ve had games where we don’t play well and have to pick it up. So Steamboat will be a big test for us to see if we can play to our level, to be the best in the league. This is a good group of girls, so I think they’ll meet the standards of needing to win a big game.”
Glenwood has rolled through the regular season, scoring an average of 5.1 goals per game, while dropping just two games all season — both on the road. The great season isn’t close to being done just yet, especially if the Demons have a say. As of now, the Demons are in position to host at least three games in the 4A state playoffs, which would be a huge accomplishment for a Western Slope program.
However, that doesn’t always equal success for Glenwood. Last season, the Demons made the state playoffs for the first time since 2012. That run didn’t end the way the Demons wanted to, so that has driven Glenwood all season.
Glenwood is making sure not to look too far ahead though, as Thursday’s matchup with the Sailors will be the Demons’ biggest game of the year, considering what is at stake. Should Glenwood win, they’d clinch at least a share of the league championship. The Demons need to win, and Battle Mountain to lose to Palisade to win the league outright.
For the seniors, being this close to a league championship, and a chance to clinch at least a share of the league title in their final season, is something that can’t be put into the right words, according to Peterson, who set the school’s single-season scoring record Tuesday night against Summit with 25 goals.
“It would mean so much, winning with all these girls in my last year here,” Peterson said. “It would be something we’d have together for the rest of our lives. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point, it would just mean so much to accomplish this with this group.”
Thanks to a strong senior class, the Demons are on the doorstep of reaching that mountaintop. That’s not to say the junior, sophomore and freshmen class doesn’t have anything to do with that; they certainly have played a huge part in the 2018 success. But the senior leadership and production from the five seniors has helped Glenwood push to a new level under Calabrese.
In fact, the five seniors have combined for 36 goals and nine assists, accounting for roughly half of the goals scored by Glenwood on the season, and 31 percent of the assists recorded. Peterson, who will head to California-Riverside this fall to play soccer, and McSwain, who will join the family pipeline at Denver University for soccer, are the big names on this roster, but without the leadership and depth provided by Harbour, Reece and Hirons, there’s no telling where this group is right now.
“It’s been a special senior group,” Calabrese said. “It’s such a strong, talented group of seniors that’s really made the difference, collective, for the program over the past couple of years. These seniors have been at the center of the success.”
Playoffs are on the horizon for Glenwood, but one last hurdle remains: Thursday’s showdown with the Sailors, whom Glenwood topped 3-2 to open the season.
If things go the same way as the last few games for Glenwood has gone, the Demons will be celebrating an undefeated home record, as well as a 4A WSL championship. That in itself would mean a great deal to Calabrese, who has helped the program take big steps forward in all three seasons at the helm.
“It would mean a great deal for me,” Calabrese said. “It would validate the work that the girls and the coaching staff have done. The girls work so hard; they’re very deserving of the recognition and buzz that they’re generating right now.”
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