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St. Mary's sees four-year run of finals appearances end with quarterfinal loss
For the first time in five years the 3A girls’ soccer championship game will not involve St. Mary’s.
The two-time defending champion and four-time finalist Pirates were eliminated in the quarterfinals on a goal from a girl who wasn’t even expected to play. Alex Johnson, wearing a borrowed jersey and borrowed shoes, scored in the 73rd minute to lead No. 5 Peak to Peak past No. 4 St. Mary’s 3-2 on Thursday at The Grace Center.
Johnson sprained her ankle two weeks ago and hadn’t practiced or played since. So she left her jersey and cleats at home and went along to support the team. Not only did she support the team, but she had a goal and assist to lead the Pumas to the win.
“I wasn’t prepared to play,” Johnson said. “But the momentum of the game really gave me some adrenaline. I got in there and worked my butt off.”
The Pumas (14-3-1) defeated the Pirates (13-3-2) 2-1 earlier in the season. But Alex Sjobakken’s goal in the second minute showed the Pirates were looking to advance yet again.
Peak to Peak leading scorer Belle Morel-a-L’huissier put the Pumas ahead with a goal in each half, before Sjobakken tied it in the 69th minute. Morel-a-L’huissier’s second goal and Johnson’s game-winner came on failures to clear the ball by the Pirates.
“Couple of mistakes,” St. Mary’s coach Gregg Braha said. “With a young team you expect a couple mistakes as the stakes get higher.”
Kendra Tyboroski was one of four seniors for the Pirates. When Saturday morning comes and Tyboroski and her teammates don’t have a game to play it’s going to be a different experience.
“It’s going to be rough,” said Tyboroski, who goes out a two-time champion. “I might go up and watch (the semifinals). Watching is going to be weird too, but it’s better than knowing that it’s completely out of my life.”
With the experience for all but four players expected to return, the Pirates are poised for another long run.
“The same thing happened four years ago,” Sjobakken said.