GREENWOOD VILLAGE | It’s hard to beat a good team three teams in one season, but the Colorado Academy field hockey team found a way to do so against Regis Jesuit.
The Mustangs completed a three-game season sweep of the Raiders with a 2-0 victory Wednesday night at Stutler Bowl with the state championship on the line. A rematch of last season’s state final — and the third time the matchup has played out in the title game in the past five seasons — went this time to Colorado Academy, which avenged last season’s loss to match a win over Regis Jesuit in 2019.
Coach Spencer Wagner’s Regis Jesuit team finished the season 13-3-2 and had its season end in the state championship game for the fifth consecutive time.
“That’s a team with regional, national players and we used teamwork and athleticism to try to outplay them,” Wagner said. “Skill prevailed in the end. It was a great season, they did everything we asked of them and they were putting in the absolute effort until the end. Two teams get a trophy, so I guess we get to take something home and add it to the shelf.”
When two elite teams play, the different usually comes down to the execution of penalty corner chances and Colorado Academy prevailed in those terms.
The Mustangs broke a scoreless deadlock on a corner opportunity near the midway point of the second quarter when they got consecutive chances. The second one paid off for Colorado Academy as Addison Chandler fed the ball in to Sophie Brants, who put it in front and allowed Chandler to poke it past Regis Jesuit’s MaryKate Berg.
It was only the second goal allowed by Berg in three championship game appearances as she shut out Colorado Academy in last season’s final and allowed a single score in the 2020 title game against Cherry Creek.
Very early in the third quarter, another series of corner chances led to a goal from Colorado Academy senior Zoe Martin, a Division I commit with the University of Michigan who finished as the state leader in goals scored and total points for a reason. Berg came out to make an initial save on a shot by Riley Leversedge and while she was on the turf, Martin deftly earned some space and lifted the ball into the air and into the open goal.
“They have good backhand shots that are really hard to save, they are good at transferring the ball and they are really fast,” Regis Jesuit senior defender Libby Roe said of the Mustangs’ weapons on penalty corners. “We definitely wanted to play CA. They are a really good team and they bring out the best in us.”
Added Wagner: “We defended them phenomenally, but when you give up 10 corners against a team like that, if you do the math, it’s going to be two goals. I didn’t expect us to hold this to a 0-0 game like last night (a 1-0 semifinal win over Kent Denver) because CA is too powerful on attack. To win, we needed to score and we didn’t.”
Indeed Regis Jesuit’s offense — which finished the season with an average of 2.5 goal scored per game — were shut out for a second straight time by Colorado Academy. The Raiders’ only goal in 12 quarters against the Mustangs came from junior Bebe Ghiselli in the third period of the first matchup.
The Raiders generated some chances in the final quarter, but were unable to put one past the Mustangs’ Jessica Lapidus to give themselves some life.
While there were tears when it was over, Regis Jesuit players were proud that they’d upheld the recent tradition established by the program — and the high level of expectations that comes with it — and again earned the chance to play on the final day.
“Honestly, at the beginning of the season I didn’t know if we were going to be here today,” said senior Carly Kennedy, who finished tied with junior Sydney Cornell for the team lead in goals with 13 and paced the Raiders in assists with seven.
“So being here today is an awesome feeling since ultimately we do it for fun,” she added. “I’m glad we are here, win or lose, and we got second so I’m still feeling good.”
Added Berg, who said she was grateful for an incredible four years with the program: “Our goal is always to win state, but our purpose is to be with and for others. I think even throughout game today we stood up to that. That’s what I’ve seen, us being good competitors and taking the loss as well as we can.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 FIELD HOCKEY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Nov. 2 at Stutler Bowl
(1) COLORADO ACADEMY 2, (2) REGIS JESUIT 0
Score by quarters:
Regis Jesuit 0 0 0 0 — 0
Colo. Academy 0 1 1 0 — 2
Colorado Academy — Addison Chandler (Sophie Brants)
Colorado Academy — Zoe Martin (Riley Leversedge)
Colorado Academy saves: Jessica Lapidus (4 shots on goal-4 saves)