Every other girls’ soccer team in the 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference is chasing Cheyenne Mountain (4-0-1). After a 4A championship last season, and wins against 5A powers Pine Creek and Liberty in the early portions of this year, nobody is questioning who the favorite is coming into league play this week.
For now, that is. The Indians, who are 12 seniors deep, will get a pair of monumental tasks right out of the gate, facing Sand Creek (6-0) on Tuesday and Lewis-Palmer (4-0-2) on Thursday.
“We are psyched about it,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Tomas Martinez said. “There are a lot of great teams in the league and we’re looking forward to them. As far as we go, we are pretty comparable to last season. We have 11 or 12 girls who could be named captains, leading us, and we’re getting a lot of strong play from a lot of different girls.
“We’re hoping to make another deep run this year.”
First though, they hope to hand the Scorpions their first loss. Bludgeoning opponents with a 39-2 scoring margin early into the year, fourth-year coach Craig Decker is fielding his best team yet.
Led by a slew of talented seniors — including Christina Tafoya and her league-high 13 goals this season — Sand Creek is looking forward to another chance against 4A’s top team.
“Three years ago when these seniors were freshmen, we put a scare into Cheyenne Mountain and lost 2-1 in overtime. We were a bit of an unknown then,” said Decker, whose team went on to lose to the Indians 7-2 in 2012 and 3-2 in 2013. “We don’t have the depth that Cheyenne Mountain does, but we’ll see. I’d put my starting 11 up against anyone in the state.”
The Rangers, meanwhile, will get their chance two days later. After a 9-6-1 record in 2013, Lewis-Palmer has recorded five shutouts in six games in 2014.
When asked about the notion of being a dark-horse contender in the PPAC, Rangers co-coach Joe Martin quickly turned aside the notion.
“I wouldn’t say we are a dark horse. I’d say we’re in the mix,” said Martin, whose team has outscored opponents 15-2 this year. “What we have to do going forward is keeping playing the way we’re playing. No matter who we face.”
Falcon (3-1) and Discovery Canyon (3-2) have outscored their opponents by double-digit margins through the first handful of games.Vista Ridge (2-5-1) is trying to get things back on track since a 2-0 start. And Palmer Ridge (1-3) and Air Academy (1-4), both of whom made deep runs in the postseason last year, are looking to recover in league after dropping under .500 during tough nonconference schedules.
Brent W. New, The Gazette
Twitter: @brentwnew @gazettepreps