Higgins has hat trick in Central win
At the corner of the field at Long Family Memorial Park stood Haleigh Higgins, a senior forward for the Central High School girls soccer team. The Warriors, despite plenty of senior leadership, have struggled to find their rhythm so far.
Tied 2-2 with Steamboat Springs in the closing minutes, Higgins was looking to make a good pass across the field. But as she kicked the ball, it started to curve. None of her teammates were able to make it over to the ball and play it like a typical corner kick, but it didn’t matter.
The ball glided into the far corner of the goal, giving the Warriors a 3-2 lead on the way to a 4-2 victory.
The goal stunned the fans, players and coaches. Even the referees hesitated in making the call.
“I called the play. It was supposed to be to the back post and it just went in. It was beautiful. It was really beautiful,” Central coach Doug Beach said.
Higgins liked what she saw from the corner kick, too.
“I’ve never really taken corner kicks before, but they’re kind of working out for me now,” Higgins said.
“I don’t really have to hit the ball that hard. I just have to strike it right. That one just ended up curving right in perfectly.”
Moments later, Higgins got another opportunity on a through ball, which she put past Steamboat goalie Molly Moore.
“Alyssa (Workman) played a good ball on that one. There was one girl that was on the other side of me and I was faster than her,” Higgins said. “It was just a good way to finish the game.”
Higgins had a hat trick, her first goal coming in the second minute of the game.
But between Higgins’ first goal and her last two, Steamboat Springs made it a game.
In the 33rd minute, Central goalie Tayler Else caught a shot on goal, but as she came down, the ball slipped out of her arms, which left Steamboat’s Jenna Peters open to tie the game 1-1.
Although the mistake hurt Central short-term, Beach praised Else’s attitude.
“She learns from her mistakes,” Beach said. “We talked about at half time, ‘You’ve got to catch them up here (at shoulder level) not down here (at stomach level),’ and she says ‘OK.’
“She moves on and the next ball will be up here. She’s just that kind of kid.”
Else finished with eight saves and Moore recorded six.
Neither team scored again until the 68th minute, when Ashley Paul launched a deep shot that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and then bounced off Moore into the goal.
Steamboat tied the game in the 76th minute, with Emmy Birch putting a ball in off a corner kick.
Beach said Central, which is off until playing Fruita Monument on April 17, is starting to control games from the middle of the field.
“We’re just trying to complete more passes in the middle third, that’s all we’re trying to do,” Beach said. “When we do that we control the ball. ... It’s just that simple.”