Palmer Ridge breaks playoff curse
Bears reach quarterfinals for first time
MONUMENT • In honor of Halloween weekend, Palmer Ridge’s boys’ soccer team decided to break a curse.
The top-seeded Bears — who had lost the past two seasons in the second round of the 4A state playoffs — advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history with a 1-0 win over No. 16 Widefield on Saturday afternoon.
Palmer Ridge (15-1-1) was taken out of rhythm on offense by a pesky Widefield (13-3-1) defense. However, the Bears couldn’t have cared less what it looked like.
“I just talked to all the guys about how that wasn’t our best performance and I hope we play better in the following rounds, but we broke the curse,” Palmer Ridge coach Nick Odil said. “The last two years we had been knocked out after leading pretty much the entire game. I’m happy with the win and that the curse is broken.”
Gustav Seifert got into the Gladiators’ box and fired a shot off Widefield goalkeeper Tre Taylor that ricocheted high into the air and crossed the goal line just before a desperation clear attempt from a defender.
Just like the rest of the game for Palmer Ridge, the goal was ugly, yet effective.
“It was very lucky,” said Seifert, who scored at the 11:53 mark. “I didn’t think it was going to get in, but we’ll take it. The biggest thing is that we win and it doesn’t matter how it happens.”
While the Bears’ offense kept pressure on Widefield’s defense most of the game, it couldn’t strike for a second goal. A few hit crossbars and missed passes allowed the underdog Gladiators to hang around. Unfortunately for Widefield, the opposing defense was up to the task.
“Our defense is very good together and we talk to each other well and are able to shift as one big group back there,” Palmer Ridge senior defender Andrew Bell said. “You’ve got to win the ugly games, and for us it feels good to win one like this.”
For a Widefield team that defeated Valor Christian on Thursday by a 1-0 score, the close game was nothing new. The Gladiators’ solid defensive plan nearly worked.
“I can’t say enough about these guys and the way they’ve played all season,” Widefield coach Karl Anderson said. “It’s kind of the luck of the draw when you get into the state tournament and we drew the No. 1 team in the state. We held them to one goal, and it wasn’t even a great goal. I thought we played outstanding.”