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Palmer Ridge falls just short in field hockey championship game
DENVER • Palmer Ridge took the next step, but the final one remained elusive.
After playing to a scoreless stalemate through regulation and two overtimes, the Bears were beaten in strokes (the field hockey equivalent of penalty shots), giving Colorado Academy a 1-0 win and a state championship Monday at All-City Stadium.
After being eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2009-10, Palmer Ridge made it to, but not through, the semifinals in 2011. This season, the Bears made it into the finals and were hoping to skip a step and win a state title on their first trip.
It was not to be.
“The girls definitely made some history for Palmer Ridge,” Bears coach Paul Lewis said. “We would have obviously loved to win it; it just wasn’t in the cards.”
Palmer Ridge missed a state title by the narrowest of margins. Colorado Academy scored on each of its first two strokes, while the first three Palmer Ridge shots missed. Daelynn Demelko and Courtney Daly each scored on the Bears’ final two strokes, while Palmer Ridge goalie Cheradyn Petit made two great saves, one with her mitt and the other with her left leg pad.
That brought Colorado Academy’s Mandy Weeks up for the final shot. If Petit, who made eight saves in the second half alone to keep the Bears in the game, could make the save, it would go to additional strokes.
Weeks’ shot went in just beyond Petit’s glove.
“I feel like I could have gotten it,” Petit said. “It was a great shot just barely out of my reach. When I heard it hit that net, I was so disappointed.”
Lost in that disappointment, at least for the moment, was that Palmer Ridge’s presence in the championship game at all was remarkable. The Bears lost 15 seniors from last year’s semifinalist team.
“I thought it might be a rebuilding year,” Lewis said. “But when the girls came in and I saw the talent and the improvement, I knew this could be something special.”
It was. The Bears finished the season with a 15-3 record and with a program on the upswing.
Colorado Academy, which completed its unbeaten season at 16-0-2, came into the title game sporting Colorado’s best defense (0.457 per game) and best offense (60 goals). Palmer Ridge was ranked third defensively at 0.699 goals per game and second offensively at 57 goals. No other team had scored more than 37 goals.
After the final shot went in, Colorado Academy fans rushed the field in jubilation, the celebration making the loss hurt that much more. Amid the din, Lewis found focus.
“We keep moving up,” he said. “The program is starting to grow so it’s just a matter of time – a short time, hopefully.
“I know they’re going to bounce back from this and grow from it. We expect to be here next year and have a different result.”