Has Cheyenne Mountain returned as a soccer powerhouse?
Coach Tomas Martinez smiled at the question, and declined to answer it fully. He knows all about mighty high school soccer teams, and he’s not ready to place his current one in that lofty category.
Don’t get him wrong. He was encouraged after his team’s impressive 3-1 home victory over The Classical Academy, but he’s not quite ready to jump up and down with soccer joy.
“I think we have the potential to do a lot of things,” Martinez said. “It could be winning state, and it could be a first-round playoff exit. Consistency has been the key word.
“Consistency has been a tough one for us. We can be a great team and we can be a bad team. Couple of our earlier games, we were a bad team.”
On a three-season tear from 2013 to 2015, CM was an undeniably great team. With Martinez directing the way, CM roared to three straight state titles and finished 49-7-4. At one point, CM streaked to 17 straight wins in the state playoffs.
The past two seasons have been solid, if not glorious. CM has not returned to the title game.
TCA (2-1-2) is strong. The Titans marched into Tuesday’s game with 46 wins in their past 55 games, and they bolted to an almost-instant 1-0 lead.
That goal, Martinez said, served to awaken his players, who delivered a brilliant stretch of soccer to take a 3-1 lead at halftime.
First, Piper Negaard directed a superb pass to a sprinting Lisa Long, who buried the shot to tie the game.
Second, Caroline McCleary lofted a perfectly placed 35-yard assist to Sophie Hollard, who scored to give CM a 2-1 lead.
And last, Marissa Dowlin blasted a looping 40-yard kick into the net to give CM a comfortable 3-1 cushion.
TCA threatened often in the second half. Kaylee Thompson came close to scoring with 25 minutes left, and Ashlie McFarlane just missed on a point-blank shot with 16:53 remaining.
Cheyenne Mountain (3-2-1) has struggled with focus at times this season, but players were fully locked in on this chilly night.
“We’re really finding our place as a team in this league,” Long said. “This win just shows that we have talent and we have skill and we have really hard-working girls. We never put our head down this season, and we’ve had some hard losses.”
The season remains young. Martinez knows big steps remain for his team.
He also knows a massive step was taken Tuesday night.
“It’s a big win,” he said. “It was a good statement for us.”