Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Niwot downs Erie in double-OT thriller

 


It just doesn’t get any more dramatic than Niwot’s playoff victory against the Erie Tigers on Wednesday night. In miserable, wet conditions, Niwot battled the Tiger’s hard-hitting physical attack to the point of exhaustion, twice coming back to tie the game, and then finally winning on senior Maddie Barkow’s “golden goal” in 98th minute. For senior and co-captain Kailee Stobbe, the hard fought win reflects the team’s commitment not just to the team, but to each other.

“That game meant everything to us,” she said. "Every girl on the field, every girl on the bench, and every girl that’s on this roster performs to the top of their ability. Every goal we score is for the person next to us. I wouldn’t even say that we’re a team anymore. We’re a family.”

Barkow also said team unity played a big role in the win, saying “After each [Erie] goal, we didn’t get down on each other, and that was a big part of it.”

The game didn’t get off to a great start for the Cougars. In an unnerving reminder of last week’s loss to Littleton, Erie forward McKenna Harrington slipped a shot past Niwot keeper Allie Colvin less than a minute into the game to take a 1-0 lead. But if the Cougars were unduly rattled by this early setback, they didn’t show it. Niwot’s defense, led by juniors Nazary Ramirez-Tapia and Roxie Pasma, held Erie’s hard-hitting attack at bay for the remainder of the half. On the other side of the field, the Cougars offense mounted steady pressure, especially toward the end of the first 40 minutes, but couldn’t get the ball in the net. Erie took its 1-0 lead into the break.

Niwot picked up where it left off to start the second half, and their efforts finally paid off in the 54th minute when Allie Colvin’s longest punt of the afternoon landed at the feet of Stobbe, who turned and fired it past Erie keeper Megan Marcoux to even the score at 1-1. That kicked off a scoring frenzy from both teams. Just four minutes later, Niwot junior Sage Marten scored on a pass from senior Charlotte McCarthy, giving the Cougars a 2-1 lead. Less than three minutes after that, in the 60th minute, Erie scored on a penalty kick after a foul by a Niwot defender in the box to even the game at 2-2. They would add another goal with 16 minutes remaining to take a 3-2 lead.

Erie held off Niwot’s increasingly anxious attack for the next 16 minutes, and seemed poised to claim their first ever soccer playoff victory. The bruised and muddied Cougars, however, weren’t going to give up their season so easily. With just 17 seconds remaining in regulation, senior co-captain Lauren Wolf scored an unassisted goal to tie the game at 3-3, and force overtime.

“We know we play better when we’re calm,” Stobbe said about her team’s demeanor in the final minute. “Everyone kept their heads and found each other. No one tried to be the star, and we worked as a team.”

Neither team scored in the first overtime, though Niwot had six shots on goal to Erie’s one. The second OT seemed poised to go the same way, but less than three minutes in, a long shot from Barkow off of a deflection sailed past Marcoux, clinching a 4-3 win for the Cougars, their first playoff victory since 2014.

Niwot faces No. 2 seed Wheat Ridge (14-2) in Round 2 of the Class 4A playoffs on Saturday, May 13. Wheat Ridge beat Thompson Valley 3-0 to in Round 1.

 

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