All it takes is one

Despite controlling much of game, Bulldogs lose to Gators

Palisade’s Christina Chatfield, right, battles for the ball with Standley Lake’s Delaney Hueston on Wednesday night in the first half of the Gators’ 1-0 victory in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs at Walker Field.

The Palisade High School girls soccer team had the majority of the shots Wednesday night.

They had the majority of possession, the stronger defense and cleaner opportunities on the net.

But one mad scramble in front of the net after a corner kick and one shot that trickled into the goal lifted No. 23 Standley Lake past the No. 10 Bulldogs for a 1-0 win in the Class 4A playoffs.

The Gators’ goal came with roughly 11 minutes remaining as McKayla Hatch’s strike cleared a crowd of players from both teams and settled into the right side of the net.

Palisade (13-3) launched several more attacks against Standley Lake (8-7-1) in the final 10 minutes, including a long free kick the scraped over the top of the net, but the Bulldogs couldn’t score an equalizer as time ran out.

Palisade coach Tim Hofer said his team controlled the game in nearly every aspect — except finishing shots.

“I’m really proud of the way we played because we left it all on the field,” Hofer said. “The game came down to finishing those chances and unfortunately we couldn’t put any away. They converted on their chance. It was a great game. I feel like we had more possession, more opportunities at goal. It just came down to lack of concentration in front of the net.”

Hofer added that set pieces have been an issue for an otherwise stout Bulldogs’ defense, which did limit Standley Lake to only three solid shots on goal.

Palisade was dominant with its possession early, holding the ball in Standley Lake’s end and firing several shots. Any counterattacks mounted by the Gators were snuffed out before a shot was taken. Standley Lake’s first scoring chance came in the 28th minute on a free kick. Taken from outside the box on the right wing, a Gators’ player curled in a cross that was turned away on a well-timed header from a Palisade defender.

The second half was more even in terms of possession, and Standley Lake’s Shannon Patrick mounted an attack as she streaked up the left wing and fired a low shot that just skipped past the right post. Palisade responded almost immediately, with Lexi Newton’s shot skimming over the crossbar. Roughly five minutes later, Kaylin Castro’s cross bounced in front of Standley Lake goalkeeper Emma Smith, but Palisade players crashing into the box couldn’t put a foot on it. Newton made another slick run a few minutes later, but Smith came up with a save.

The Gators nearly took the lead with 22 minutes remaining, but Reannon Baskin made a fingertip save for Palisade. The Bulldogs turned away the ensuing corner and — after a series of passes — Newton emerged in the center of the box, only for Smith to make point-blank save.

The Bulldogs graduate four seniors off their roster this year: midfielders Castro, Emma Mueller, Maya Hilty and defender Madi Caster.

Hofer praised the leadership each senior provided, highlighting Mueller’s organization in the heart of the midfield and Caster’s work coordinating the defense.

It was also Hofer’s last game with the Bulldogs as he moves to the Front Range this summer. Hofer compiled a 25-7 record in two seasons with Palisade.

“Oh, gosh, these last two years being a part of this program has changed my life,” Hofer said. “These girls have put a smile on my face every day after school and that was the part of my day that I looked forward to — being able to hang out around these incredible girls and coaching the sport that I love.”


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