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Palmer Ridge seeks state field hockey semis at home
Palmer Ridge’s field hockey team has a bit of extra motivation for reaching the semifinals for the first time in program history.
The state semifinals and championship match will be hosted at Don Breese Stadium in Monument, essentially a home game if the Bears can go further than they’ve ever been before.
“Oh, my gosh, there is so much excitement,” junior Casey Deeds said. “Everyone is really, really hoping to make it to state.”
Deeds will be at the center of things if the Bears are to reach the semifinals and finals. She takes over at the center midfield position for Kaili Simmons, a two-time all-state player.
“It’s kind of a lot of pressure,” Deeds said. “I’ve got big shoes to fill. ... You’ve got to be there for everyone on all sides of the field.”
The Bears have reached the quarterfinals the past three seasons, and each of those seasons have ended in the quarterfinals. Getting the chance to host the championship game might be the extra push the Bears need to get over the hump.
“They’re definitely excited it is at home, because it’s easier for family and friends to be there,” Palmer Ridge coach Paul Lewis said. “They definitely recognize that and are excited about that. The more fans in the stands definitely makes the atmosphere more exciting to play in.”
All that excitement isn’t necessarily a great thing.
“There’s a lot more excitement and a lot more pressure,” Lewis said. “We feel like we need to be there. It’s kind of a double-edged sword in that setup.”
Palmer Ridge has been the best team in the area for several years. But when it comes to playing in Denver, the better Denver teams have handled the Bears in the playoffs. With a chance to host the semifinals, the Bears can show they’ve turned the corner.
“It’s really about making it to the final two this time,” Deeds said. “So we can prove ourselves completely.”
TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH
Casey Deeds, junior, Palmer Ridge
The starting center midfielder notched five goals last season and moves into the key position on the field
Hannah Mikelson, senior, Palmer Ridge
The all-state first-team selection returns on the Bears’ defensive line and will be key on short-corner opportunities
Mallory Cuccio, senior, Palmer Ridge
The Bears goalie earned second-team all-state honors a season ago with an .820 save percentage
Haley Chytka, junior, Palmer Ridge
The midfielder who runs the offensive transition game led the team with 11 goals and seven assists a season ago.
Tate Crosby, senior, Cheyenne Mountain
The midfielder finished with two goals last year while leading the team with 24 shots
Others: Kate Powell, Cheyenne Mountain; Alexandra Gregg, Cheyenne Mountain; Njery Summey, Cheyenne Mountain; Shannon Bryant, Palmer Ridge
TEAM MOST LIKELY TO CONTEND AT STATE
Palmer Ridge has reached the state quarterfinals the past three seasons.
Last year the only thing that stopped them was eventual state champion Mountain Vista in a 1-0 loss that Bears coach Paul Lewis believed Palmer Ridge didn’t deserve.
“We just didn’t get our goals put in, but we dominated the game,” Lewis said. “We had far more shots and far more attacks, just not able to put the ball in the net.”
The Bears, a district team that has players from Air Academy and Sand Creek, while the majority of the team comes from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer, will again be the class of Colorado Springs.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
A lack of interest and lack of a coach has led the Fountain Valley field hockey team to join Cheyenne Mountain in a co-op effort.
Fountain Valley first-year athletic director Jennifer Joseph said the Danes have three players who will play with Cheyenne Mountain.
Indians coach Dora Bennett was more than willing to take on the Danes’ players. And the rest of the Indians have accepted them easily.
“They blended for the first time (Thursday) very nicely,” Bennett said.
RAISING THE BAR
In only a few days of practice, Cheyenne Mountain coach Dora Bennett could see the influence of her five returning seniors. Those five seniors will be crucial in upping the Indians’ win total from two last season.
“I have a wonderful group of seniors,” Bennett said. “Already in three days I can see their impact on the girls, in terms of example.”
Bennett expects that kind of impact to translate to wins.
“I really feel confident,” Bennett said, “that we’re going to have a much more successful season, in terms of wins and losses.”
Competition begins: Sept. 1
Cheyenne Mountain at Palmer Ridge: Sept. 14
Colorado Academy at Cheyenne Mountain: Sept. 19
Cherry Creek at Palmer Ridge: Sept. 26
Palmer Ridge at Kent Denver: Oct. 3
Cherry Creek at Cheyenne Mountain: Oct. 8
State semifinals at Don Breese Stadium: Oct. 26
State championship game at Don Breese Stadium: Oct. 31