Arapahoe defeats ThunderRidge to head to quarterfinal match

Warriors will play Cherokee Trail on May 17

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Arapahoe’s Sydney Maxson provided both the offensive and defensive punch as the Warriors earned a 1-0 second-round girls soccer playoff win over ThunderRidge on May 12 afternoon at Shea Stadium.

Maxson scored on an odd-angled free kick in the 57th minute and then the senior center back sparked the Warriors' defensive effort that stalled the ThunderRidge offense.

The win improved Arapahoe’s record to 13-4-0 and propelled the 12th- seeded Warriors into a quarterfinal match May 17 against Centennial League foe Cherokee Trail.

ThunderRidge, the Continental League champions and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, ended the season with a 13-3-1 record.

Maxson’s game-winning goal came from 20 yards out near the left sideline.

“I had taken a free kick right before and I was upset that it wasn’t a good free kick,” said Maxson, who has signed to play soccer at Colgate. “I was really focusing on curving the ball so someone could get a head on it and it ended up curving all the way into the goal.

“It was a really tough game to defend because they have a really good player up high in Shae (Holmes), and it was tough shutting her down. We all worked together and got a good result.”

Holmes, a junior midfielder, was the Continental League’s top scorer with 20 goals and 47 points, but Arapahoe didn’t allow ThunderRidge to have many good scoring opportunities and notched its fifth shutout in the past five games.

“We knew defensively as a team that we had to play incredibly tight,” said Arapahoe coach Mark Hampshire. “ThunderRidge offensively is a wrecking ball. We knew we had to have a game plan and stick to — and that was the entire team not just the defenders. Team defense, that’s where it needs to be.

“Holmes is such an incredible player and one of the things we’ve always done, and sometimes it has hurt us, but we never focus on one player. That’s not to say we weren’t paying attention to her, but the team is the one that took care of that.”

ThunderRidge coach Mike Parsons kept encouraging his team to play with a sense of urgency late in the game. The Grizzlies responded but couldn’t score.

“We’ve dominated so much early in games this year and had halftime leads,” said Parsons. “It was different for us and put pressure on us. And, at least initially in the first half and the first part of the second half, we came out tight. I have a young team and with playoff pressure they just weren’t able to find their comfort zone.

“Why we didn’t find that urgency early in the game is that the physical stuff is one thing but the mental skills is what a lot of them need to work on.”

Parsons praised both Arapahoe and his team.

“Arapahoe is a good team,” he added. “They are very strong out of the air and they did beat us to a lot of balls. Kudos to them.

“This was the first time in 15 years that we won the Continental League and we beat our rival Mountain Vista. I told the girls you have to focus on that and can’t downplay that just because you didn’t win state. It hurts. I’ve got this euphoria and pain at the same time.”

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