Class 4A girls soccer: Dakota Ridge tops Lutheran for state title

COMMERCE CITY — Entering the 2023 season, there weren’t any statistics to be found on Dakota Ridge senior Bailey Pignatore. After Tuesday night, however, here’s two: She scored her 18th goal of the campaign and got the game-clincher in the Class 4A state title game. Not too bad for one year of high school soccer.

The forward, who will play at Texas Wesleyan in college, scored the game-clinching goal as the Eagles defeated Lutheran to win their first title since 2003. The pandemic-cancelled season was followed by a pair of injuries for Pignatore, including a hip and ACL. She came into the season pressure-free and early in the second half, flicked in a set-piece goal to put the game beyond reach at 2-0.

“I’ve waited for this for so long and especially getting to do it with girls that I’m so close to, it’s been a dream,” Pignatore said. “… On the goal, we all run out to different spots to try and confuse the team and goalkeeper and whoever gets a head on it gets a head on it. I was lucky enough to be that person.”

Dakota Ridge (18-1) took the lead on an unfortunate bounce. In the second minute of the game, a routine back pass was played to Lutheran junior goalkeeper Bissett Bussey. She had her foot lifted too high and the ball slid under it to give Dakota Ridge a 1-0 lead. Her teammates came up to encourage her and keep fighting.

Despite chasing the game the rest of the first half, the Lions (17-2), who made their first championship girls soccer appearance in program history, were able to create a number of chances with seven shots, three of which were on target. The best chance came in the 23rd minute as Rachel Robinson tried a volley from just inside the 18-yard box but it was saved by Eagles goalkeeper Kassidy Spencer. The teams went into the break with the Eagles holding a 1-0 lead.

“You never can get prepared for this. You never know what can happen, you can game plan and do everything but anything can go wrong, but this is what we love about the game though,” Lutheran head coach Ashleigh Fitterer said. “You get to battle and enjoy it and we did that.”

As the Lions pushed for a response, the Eagles’ defense didn’t break, as they repelled chance after chance even as Lutheran outshot them 13-5. The Eagles were able to see out the game and kept a second successive shutout en route to the title.

Class 3A Final: Jefferson Academy 3, Manitou Springs 0

After a scoreless first half, the Jaguars put on a show in the second half of the Class 3A championship game with three goals to put an emphatic end on an 18-2 season.

The Jaguars, who ended the season on a 14-game unbeaten streak, raised their game in the second half and were more like harriers in their high press.

As a result they created plenty of chances. University of Tennesee-bound striker Kate Runyon struck twice in the span of ten minutes, as she opened the scoring in the 48th minute and all but put the game to bed in the 58th. Allie Jo Kirkpatrick, who will play Division II soccer at Concordia University St. Paul, added a third late on to secure the win.

Jefferson Academy outscored its opponents 34-2 en route to a second girls soccer state title and first since 2018. All-time it was the Jaguars’ fifth all-time state title appearance.

Class 2A: Colorado Springs Christian 3, Fountain Valley 1

In order to win a first title in program history, Colorado Springs Christian came from behind to do so. Trailing 1-0 at the break, the Lions erupted for three second-half goals.

The six-seeded Lions (14-5) got goals from Christina Huerta (43rd minute), Ella Salsbery (59th) and Wilna Colopy (64th). Fountain Valley’s Briityn Lybecke scored her 30th goal of the campaign in the final minute of the first half. While the Lions had five losses on the season, all of them came against bigger classification teams, including 3A runner-up Manitou Springs and 4A Lutheran.

Source: Read Full Article