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Goal in final minutes lifts L-P to 4A Metro League soccer title
Jade Ryals scored the game-winning, league-clinching goal, but the Lewis-Palmer senior never saw it.
Ryals’ header in the 74th minute gave the Pikes Peak No. 1 Rangers a 3-2 win at No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain and clinched the 4A Metro League title in the her final regular-season game Thursday night.
The Indians (13-1, 8-1) had battled back from a 2-0 deficit when Ryals elevated above several defenders to head Sammie Lewis’ corner kick into the far, lower corner of the Cheyenne Mountain net with 6:43 to play.
“I jumped I don’t know how high,” Ryals said. “I felt it hit me, and I fell to the ground and sat there and waited for people to either scream or walk away. And I heard them scream.”
Second-half goals from Janae Vander Ploeg and Darcy Jerman pulled the Indians out of a two-goal hole and gave them the momentum. But the Rangers (15-0, 9-0), the defending league champs, held the Indians from scoring a third.
“Once it got to 2-2 I thought it would probably end in a tie,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Scott Johnson said. “We were pushing, but they’re not a team that’s going to fall back either. They’re too talented for that.”
Lewis-Palmer controlled the opening half, despite playing against the wind. Virginia Limbird’s speed had the Indians playing on their heels. The Rangers’ striker didn’t score but she set up both first-half goals, from opposite sides of the field.
Kourtney Guetlein opened the scoring when she headed a rebound of Limbird’s shot from the left into the net in the 21st minute. Five minutes later, Limbird outraced the Indians defense down the right side before sending a cross to wide-open freshman Lindsey Ryals, who left-footed the ball into the goal.
“(Limbird) was playing amazing,” Lindsey Ryals said.
“We were kind of keying on a couple other players,” Johnson said. “I think (Limbird) kind of surprised us a little.”
Blowing a two-goal lead and having to fight to keep from yielding a third showed his team’s mettle, said L-P assistant coach Joe Martin, in charge after head coach Ian Wale arrived late.
“Cheyenne really turned their game up,” Martin said. “They played an awesome game; their passing was great. But our girls hung in.”
While Limbird was the key in the first half, Jade Ryals was the key to the end. She might not have seen her game-winner, but she’ll never forget it.
“It felt really good,” Jade Ryals said. “It was nice because that’s kind of our rival.”