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Top area teams look for rebound after taking lumps from tough schedule
Several area teams with high aspirations are hoping their success won’t be defined by a rough start to the fall season.
The Liberty boys’ soccer team opened the season with nearly as many freshmen as seniors on its roster. The Doherty volleyball team scheduled the defending state champion, a semifinalist and another Denver-area power among its first opponents. And Fountain-Fort Carson softball is carrying just two seniors on its varsity roster.
All three are off to rough starts. But as the leaves change colors, all three teams are seeing their fortunes starting to turn.
The Pikes Peak No. 10 Trojans had a trying weekend Sept. 10-11 in the Dave Sanders Memorial Softball Tournament, dropping four of five games against Denver-area teams by a combined nine runs. The experience has helped the Trojans to an early 4-0 record in the 5A Metro League.
“When you go to Denver you have to strap up against all the Denver schools to prepare well,” said F-FC coach Ron Wilson, whose team also fell 1-0 in a nonconference game vs. area No. 1 Lewis-Palmer. “We won’t be surprised when we go to playoffs and face those schools.”
For No. 3 Doherty, coach Julie Ortiz made sure her team would get tough tests from Ponderosa, Grandview and Chaparral -- all ranked in the top six in 5A by The Denver Post. The Spartans (2-4) lost to all three by two points in the fifth game, the slimmest possible margin.
“Going into the season (the players) thought they could really beat anybody,” Ortiz said. “I think they do get down a bit. So I think it puts things into perspective for them a little bit. Talking to them at the end of matches, (they realize) it’s just going to help prepare us for league play ... and for tournament time.”
With four freshmen and two sophomores on the varsity roster, Liberty coach Mike Goyden knew the early season would be tough for the two-time defending 5A Metro League champs. The Lancers have lost four of their first six -- to teams with a combined 15-1 record. Losses to Air Academy, Heritage and Cheyenne Mountain were by one goal. Their fourth loss – to state power Denver East – came with a couple of starters missing. Ethan Wood, last year’s assist leader, has yet to play a game because of injury.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Goyden said. “I don’t like beating teams 10-0. I hated those games. I’d rather lose a close game than win a game by four, five goals. Maybe not everyone understands that, parents, players. We’ll struggle through the games, but it’ll make us a better team next year.”
Fountain-Fort Carson is hoping its tough schedule will make it better this year.
“If we hide from competition, eventually we’re going to be exposed as not prepared,” Wilson said. “This better prepares us for whatever we come up against.”