Jason Rollins knew his Colorado Springs Christian School girls’ soccer program had taken steps in the right direction heading into the 2018 season. How to take the next step wasn’t as obvious.
The Lions returned key contributors in the defense and midfield from the 2017 squad that went 12-4 and made it to the first round of the postseason, but CSCS graduated 63 of the team’s 78 goals.
The plan for 2018 seemed to be to win as many low-scoring games as possible behind the experienced defense.
“I wasn’t sure how our scoring was going to happen,” Rollins said.
That changed when junior Kait Halverson transferred from Cheyenne Mountain in the fall. Rollins worked the transfer in and settled on Megan Boucher in goal after the sophomore split time as a freshman. With a scorer and a stopper to bookend the talent in the midfield and defense, Rollins led the Lions to a 12-0 start and the program’s first trip to the quarterfinals in 18 years to earn Gazette Preps Girls' Soccer Coach of the Year.
“The seniors weren’t born last time,” Rollins said of the previous quarterfinal run.
Rollins also split Katie and Virginia McGrath, twin sisters who had been the Lions’ center backs. In her senior year, Virginia was moved into the midfield to provide a little more balance.
Losses to Manitou Springs for the regional crown and Skyview Academy concluded a 12-2 regular season that gave the Lions the nine seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Six different players scored in a 6-0 win over Eagle Ridge Academy to set up a round of 16 showdown with No. 8 DSST Stapleton.
Halverson, Virginia McGrath, Grace Rummel and Erin Ross scored in a 4-2 win to send the Lions back to the quarters where they fell to Jefferson Academy, the eventual champions.
“When you’re building a program, you have to learn what it takes at the next level,” the CSCS coach said.
The Lions will graduate a group of six seniors that saw the Lions go 2-13 when they were in eighth grade, Rollins’ first year coaching. They went 8-7-1 as freshmen and steadily built their way to 14-3 as seniors.
“They were really the birth of a turnaround in our program,” Rollins said.
The coach hopes to continue the program’s upward trajectory by scheduling a more challenging regular season slate and developing depth to the point where most young players can grow as reserves before stepping into larger roles.
“We realize that we’ve got some gaps to fill to be able to compete with the best, but that’s how you learn,” Rollins said.
“The future is really bright. There are a lot of players coming up through our program. I think we’ll be competitive for years to come."