THORNTON – For the second time in school history, the Eagle Ridge Academy Warriors moved beyond the opening round of the state 3A girls soccer playoffs.
ERA shut out Roaring Fork 2-0 at a wind-blown Riverdale Ridge High School May 11. Megan Derby scored the eventual game-winner in the 66th minute. Brianna Gelok added an insurance goal in the last 10 minutes.
The win was the Warriors' seventh in a row and pushed ERA into a second-round match at Prospect Ridge Academy. It starts at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14.
The last time the Warriors (12-3-1) went this far in the state tournament was 2019.
"It's our last season at Eagle Ridge," said sweeper Oceanna Solis. "We wanted to give everything we've got. We've been playing club (soccer) together since we were 8. This is our last season together."
Earlier in their playing days, Solis took a goal kick that plunked defenseman Mia Sebastiani in the back. At the time, Sebastiani was leaning over working on her shin guards.
"We almost got scored on," she laughed. "It was like, 'Oh, my goodness.' I'm the only one not signing out of them. It's hard. It's sad."
Gelok, who plays both forward and in the midfield, said the success this season wasn't a surprise.
"We know we're going to come out and give it our all," she said. "I know these girls have got my back. Sometimes, there are surprises. But other than that, I know these girls have my back."
Derby, who is the team's sweeper, said some of what goes on can be startling.
"If there's ever a mistake, I know Oceanna is going to back me up," she said. "We're always helping each other. We know how to play this field. We have good chemistry. We're all good friends."
Gelok's father, Josh, is the Warriors' coach.
"Hard work. That's what these girls are about," he said. "We outworked them in the second half. I told them if we could keep it 0-0 when they had the wind (through the first half), we'd score two or three goals. And that's what we did."
Sebastiani said playing with that much wind comes down to knowing when to move forward and when to sit defensively.
"When you're going against the wind like that in the first half, we weren't trying to score," she said. "We were trying to hold our grounds. Once we got into the second half and had the wind going, that's when you really have to start taking your shots and stuff. It's just knowing your environment and knowing how to work with your players."
Coach Gelok said one of the keys to the win was "doing the small things, particularly when it came to Derby's opening goal.
"Don't drop so far on goal kicks. You don't know if it's going to be a bad kick," he said. "If it's a bad kick, we get the bounce, and we score. I told them they wouldn't get tired with all the work they put in."
"We've been together for so long, it's bittersweet," Sebastiani said. "But we worked really hard this season."