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Air Academy shows it's a title contender with 4-0 win over Broomfield in girls' soccer quarters
BROOMFIELD • Caren Nelson managed to tip in the game’s first goal off her right big toe as Air Academy gave four good reasons why it can compete for the 4A girls’ soccer title after its 4-0 win over No. 4 Broomfield in the quarterfinals.
The 15-3 Kadets have outscored their opponents 19-0 through three games in the playoffs and hopes to provide more of the same when they face No. 9 Valor Christian in the semifinals Saturday.
The first thing they showed Wednesday was gutsy, eye-opening hustle that went with a side of spectacular at Broomfield High School.
In the 23rd minute, Nelson outran a defender and beat the charging goalie with a sliding kick that gave No. 5 Air Academy the early lead. Moments before, Sarah Schweiss put it ahead of Nelson who then boxed out a defender, extended her right leg and plunked the middle of the right post before the ball took a U-turn into the net.
“I just needed to get a touch on it,” Nelson said. “Luckily I got my right toe on it.”
Two minutes later, the Kadets proved they will capitalize off mistakes (reason two).
After the Broomfield keeper mishandled another shot from Nelson, Brianna Pak swished the back of the net in the 25th minute for the two-goal advantage.
“I just kept it composed,” Pak said of the deflection. “It came to me and I knew I couldn’t waste this one.”
Now, even though the Kadets had a lower seed in the quarters its undeniable team mentality was the third reason they looked the part of a potential champion.
A bang-bang goal from Schweiss to Taylor Braden spread a sweeping silence among Broomfield’s fans late in the half. In the 34th minute Schweiss drilled it toward the left post from 20 yards out before Braden straightened it out from a couple of feet away as she stuck out her foot and sent it to the right of the goalie to make it 3-0.
“The girls came out ready, got great opportunities and finished when they needed to,” Air Academy coach Nancy Sibley said. “This team is … wonderful.”
And finally, reason No. 4 was demonstrated when Air Academy put the pedal to the medal and closed the game — something they didn’t do to Valor Christian in their first meeting when they blew a first-half lead.
To start the second half, Broomfield’s best scoring chance was cleared out by Kendall Kultgen when a bouncing shot got behind freshman keeper Sierra Daniger, who went on to grab her seventh shutout. And in the final minutes, Kadets’ Michala Barber put a head on a corner kick from Hailey Peterman for the 4-0 advantage as it celebrated its first semifinal appearance since 2009 when the Kadets lost in the 5A finals to Chatfield.
This year they’ll have to face Valor Christian, who knocked out No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain in the quarters and beat the Kadets 3-2 in the first game of the season.
They have some more to prove so Valor doesn’t become their last game as well.
“We just need to come out ready,” said Sibley before she knew who her team would face in the semis. “The girls are excited and we will just play out our game.”