Girls Soccer: Niwot falls to Skyline, but bounces back against Windsor
March 29, 2017
The only thing predictable about high school sports is their unpredictability, and nowhere was that more evident than in the performance of the Niwot girls soccer team last week.
On Tuesday, the Cougars floundered on both offense and defense in their first ever loss to cross-town rival Skyline. Blown scoring chances and a flagging defense plagued the Cougars in both halves, allowing the upstart Falcons to come away with a 4-2 victory.
It was a different story for the Cougars on Thursday. At home against Windsor, a team that has averaged 5.5 goals per game this season, Niwot put on a defensive clinic, handing the Wizards a 1-0 loss, their first of the year.
For Head Coach Stephen Dimit, there was just one explanation for his team’s inconsistent play. “It was 100 percent a mental thing,” he said. “It was all the same players, and nothing really changed in terms of how we set-up. But the girls came out on Thursday and decided that they wanted to play for each other, which they felt was something lacking on Tuesday.”
Clearly, whatever Niwot lacked on Tuesday, the Falcons had in abundance. Skyline’s aggressive attack kept the Niwot trapped in their own end for much of the first half, and yielded two goals before the break. The Falcons tacked on another two goals in the second half to put the game out of reach for good.
Senior Maddie Barkow was back in the starting lineup for the Cougars, after missing the first two games with a high ankle sprain. She supplied much of the offensive spark for the Cougars, scoring the first of their two goals in the 51st minute, assisted by senior Charlotte McCarthy. Barkow ended the day with four total shots, including two on goal. Senior forward Meghan Jeske added a second goal for Niwot in the 62nd minute.
The Cougars were without the services of senior Kailee Stobbe, who is out with a mild knee sprain. She should be back in action sometime soon after spring break.
Dimit didn’t hesitate to credit the resurgent Falcons for their convincing win over the Cougars, but said his team’s lackluster effort should bear the brunt of the blame.
“Skyline played a pretty solid game, and you can tell they’ve been working hard, but we left a lot of opportunities on the table,” he said. “Giving up those two goals in the first half was too big a hole for us to climb out of, as it turns out.”
There would be no such hole to climb out of on Thursday. In a game that Dimit called “a huge statement about the type of team they really are,” the Cougars handed the high-flying Wizards their first regular season shutout since 2014. Niwot defenders smothered Windsor’s prolific attack, allowing just three shots on goal the entire game, while Barkow again led the Cougars on offense, getting an assist from sophomore Ava Dumler for the game’s lone score just before the 10 minute mark.
“That was our game plan against Windsor. We didn’t talk about scoring against them, we talked about keeping them off the field,” he explained. “All eleven players had a role on defense, and everyone defended exceptionally well.”
On offense, five Cougars combined for eight shots, four on goal, including junior Aria Carlston and freshman Lauren Cranny with one apiece. Jeske had another two shots on the day, while sophomore Sierra Kepler had the other. Once again, however, Barkow drove the offense for the Cougars.
“Maddie had a good game on Tuesday, but an amazing game on Thursday,” said Dimit. “She was the best player on the field, and that’s saying something. She really stepped her game up big, and led us to a huge win.”
Overall, Dimit said he was more surprised by the loss on Tuesday than the win on Thursday.
“They’ve had this in them the entire time,” said the coach. “It was just a matter of having the right mindset going into the game. Once they had that, they were pretty much unbreakable.”
The Cougars are off this week for spring break, but will be back in action on April 6 against Thompson Valley in their first conference game of the year.
3/21 — Skyline 4, Niwot 2
Cougars (1-2) 0 2 — 2
Falcons (2-1) 2 2 — 4
Goals — Madison Barkow, Meghan Jeske
Assists— Charlotte McCarthy
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Allie Colvin (80-4-5)
3/23 — Niwot 1, Windsor 0
Wizards (4-1) 0 0 — 0
Cougars (2-2) 1 0 — 1
Goals — Madison Barkow
Assists — Ava Dumler
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Allie Colvin (80-0-3)