state field hockey

File, The Gazette

The season started with a tie, a narrow loss and a blowout defeat.

But on Friday, the Liberty field hockey team finally had one go its way in a 4-0 win over Dakota Ridge, highlighted by a dominating second-half performance.

“We started passing more and dribbling less,” second-year Lancers coach Jessica Nerkowski said. “We led 1-0 at halftime, but I actually think the girls were disappointed that they hadn’t gotten more than one goal. I challenged them in the second half. They came out firing and ready to go.”

Liberty, which was awarded the District 20 squad in 2016, hasn’t won more than two games in any of its first two seasons. Nerkowski hopes Friday’s win can change the outlook for the rest of the season.

“I think it can be a springboard,” Nerkowski said.

It might not show on the scoreboard this week with games against Kent Denver, the state runner-up, on Tuesday, and Palmer Ridge, the defending state champ, on Saturday.

“We have some confidence now, but we know it’s going to be a tough week with three games (Liberty also plays Mountain Vista on Wednesday),” Newkowski said. “Now, they know what it feels like to win.”

St. Mary’s football enjoys rare success

It’s not every year that St. Mary’s gets off to a 2-0 start on the football field.

Then again, it’s not every year that the Pirates get two wins during the entire season, either.

The tide seems to be changing for this 1A program after Friday’s 17-14 home win over Denver West as the Pirates improved to 2-0, one week after a 21-14 win over John Mall.

The hot start comes on the heels of a 1-8 season in 2017 followed by back-to-back winless campaigns.

In 2014, St. Mary’s went 7-3 and reached the 2A playoffs.

On Friday, the Pirates host Jefferson, another squad with previous success in 2A that has struggled mightily in recent years. The Saints, like St. Mary’s, are 2-0 and went 1-35 the previous four seasons.

Palmer Ridge cross country gets individual, team wins at St. Vrain Invitational

Brandon Hippe finished the last two state 4A cross country meets as the fifth runner on his own team as he looked up at senior-laden squads at Palmer Ridge that won team crowns.

Now, he’s the senior setting the pace.

Hippe took top honors at Saturday’s St. Vrain Invitational in Lyons, highlighting a second-place team finish on a Bears squad that was missing its top two runners.

“I’m so proud of Brandon,” Bears coach Rob Collins said. “He’s definitely improved a lot since last year and is starting to realize how good of a runner he is.”

Hippe started the season with a first-place finish at the Legacy Rust Buster Invitational in Broomfield on Aug. 17.

Air Academy took the team title in the boys’ division, while Palmer Ridge, led by Maren Busath and Isabella Prosceno, who placed third and fourth, respectively, earned the girls’ team crown.

With great week, Mesa Ridge becomes area’s first 10-win team in 4A

In three days, Mesa Ridge’s softball team went from under the .500 mark to becoming the Pikes Peak region’s first 4A team to reach the 10-win plateau.

That’s in large part to a 5-0 performance at a weekend tournament hosted at Pueblo’s Runyon Field.

The Grizzlies (10-5) recorded wins over Cheyenne Mountain, La Junta and Lamar on Friday and followed that with triumphs over Sand Creek and Palmer Ridge on Saturday.

Double-threat sophomore Isabella Quintana leads Mesa Ridge with a .447 average from the plate and is 6-3 in the circle with a 3.30 earned run average.

St. Mary’s, competing in 3A and fresh off the program’s first state tournament berth a season ago, has won nine straight games and, at 10-2, is the area’s other 10-win team.

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