AURORA | The game of soccer can be a cruel one and Smoky Hill experienced it in full Saturday.

The Buffaloes dominated for much of their Class 5A second round state playoff contest against Liberty at Legacy Stadium, but all they had to show for it was a third straight loss in that round of the playoffs.

The eleventh-seeded Lancers weathered the storm of Smoky Hill’s play and got the game to penalty kicks, which Liberty won by a 4-2 count.

Candace Cephers scored all three goals for Centennial League champion Smoky Hill, which finished the season 11-3-2.

Cephers scored once in the first half and twice in the second half as the Buffaloes rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the closing minutes to get to overtime. They had the run of the play in both 15-minute sessions and didn’t allow a single shot on goal, only to lose on kicks.

Freshman Sam Howshar hit the crossbar with Smoky Hill’s first attempt and Liberty goalkeeper Catherine Klein made a diving save on Kaitlyn Storm’s attempt.

Sophomore goalkeeper Megan Kneefel made a save to keep Smoky Hill alive and Sami Brooks converted to make it 3-2, but Kathryn Koch nailed the clincher.

Liberty — which got two goals in regulation from DeeDee Boains — advanced to face third-seeded Rock Canyon, a 3-1 winner over No. 19 Boulder.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at or 303-750-7555

(11) LIBERTY 4, (6) SMOKY HILL 3 (Penalty kicks)

Score by halves:

Liberty         1  2 0 0 (4)  — 4

Smoky Hill  1  2 0 0 (2) — 3

Smoky Hill goals: Candace Cephers 3. Liberty goals: DeeDee Boains 2, Taylor Lobdell. Smoky Hill penalty kick conversions: Sami Brooks, Polly Castellanos. Liberty penalty kick conversions: Kaylie Dixon, Kathryn Koch, Taryn LaBree, Lobdell.

Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...