Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
The odds were not in Durango’s favor Tuesday.
Wheat Ridge hit the jackpot on three of four rolls of the dice, while the Durango High School girls soccer team kept rolling and rolling but couldn’t strike it rich.
“It’s a game of chances, and they finished their chances, and we didn’t finish ours,” DHS head coach Aaron Eldridge said. “What can you do?”
The Farmers scored on three of their four shots on goal, the Demons missed all seven of theirs, and No. 19 Wheat Ridge eliminated No. 14 DHS from the CHSAA Class 4A Girls Soccer State Championships in the first round with a 3-0 victory Tuesday afternoon at Riverview Sports Complex.
“We kind of figured if we drove all the way out here, we better win,” Wheat Ridge midfielder and leading scorer Macee Broer said.
Broer didn’t wait long to get rolling either.
Just one minute into the game, Broer poked a diagonal cross past Demons’ goalkeeper Karlee Mulkey to stake the Farmers to an early lead.
That, Broer said, set the tone and put her team in a comfortable spot to keep working away.
“I just wanted to put it away early,” she said.
Nine minutes later, Shelly Browne added the Farmers’ second goal when she took a diagonal pass from Leticia Rambeau near the right corner of the box.
“That’s what we look for,” Wheat Ridge coach Dan Watkins said.
Browne stopped in space, set up the ball and lobbed it over Mulkey for the 2-0 lead.
“That diagonal ball in the first half killed us,” Eldridge said of the Farmers’ quick counterattack strategy.
Still, two early goals seemed to calm and invigorate the Demons, who attacked with a vengeance in the second part of the first half.
Durango had its first five shots on goal in the first frame, with a bevy of quality scoring chances.
In the seventh minute, the Demons had their first chance to answer with a hard shot from the top of the box that sailed just wide left. That, Eldridge said, was the Demons’ best opportunity to keep the game tight.
Brooke Milliet got another chance in the 21st minute when she stumbled through three defenders into Farmers’ keeper Carly Manahan, who ended up with the ball.
She got another one in the 31st minute on a pass from Raquel Delgado that found Milliet wide open in the left corner of the box. Milliet waited for Manahan to advance and tried to slink it past her into the right corner, but the shot instead rolled harmlessly wide of the gaping goal.
“Some days it falls, and some days it doesn’t,” said Milliet, the Demons’ leading scorer this season.
Moments later, a leaping Manahan got a hand on a Meghan O’Brien shot intended for the right corner, then she stopped a Lauren Milliet shot directed right at her from a few yards out.
“Durango did a good job of putting us under pressure,” said Watkins, who described the second part of the first half as “scary.”
He said he knew if his girls could get to the break with a two-goal lead, they’d be in good shape for the second act. And he was right.
“If we had just hit one on offense, I’m sure that would’ve boosted us up,” said Milliet, daughter of Charlie and Janice Milliet.
Neither team came out of the half with the energy of the first.
Durango had just two more shots in the final half, and when Annie Brown scored the Farmers’ third goal 8 minutes into the second half from about 25 meters out, the proverbial wind went out the Demons’ sails and left them in the doldrums just as the actual wind started picking up.
After that goal, Eldridge said the girls focused too much on finding net and not enough of playing soccer.
“I thought it was a sad way to end the season, going from such a high to such a low,” said Milliet, who played her final game at DHS and next will embark on a playing career at Fort Lewis College.
Durango finished its season 10-5-1 with it’s sixth consecutive postseason appearance. The Demons have lost in the first round four consecutive years.
Wheat Ridge (6-8-2) advanced to the Sweet 16 and will play No. 3 Palmer Ridge (15-1) after the Bears beat No. 30 Thomas Jefferson 10-0 on Tuesday in their first-round playoff game in Monument.