Lewis-Palmer girls' soccer edges Cheyenne Mountain

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On several occasions Thursday night, Lewis-Palmer forward Bri Alger found a bit of space and directed pinpoint passes to teammates on the move.

But it was one occasion, when she found teammate Kate Devine streaking down the middle of the field behind the Cheyenne Mountain defense, which made all the difference.

Devine took a touch into the penalty box and nudged the ball past sliding Indians goalkeeper Bella Zanotelli for the only scoring in a 1-0 win for the Rangers (11-1, 5-0 5A/4A Pikes Peak) over Cheyenne Mountain (5-6, 2-2).

"There was a lot of zig-zagging of players," Alger said of the goal. "But I think my strongest point (as a player) is being able to find those balls through."

Lewis-Palmer coach Ryan Parsons says that skill works both ways - Alger's teammates adjust their runs based on her position, but they also stay a bit wider to open up some room on the field.

"She's amazing at finding those little pockets," Parsons said. "Her vision is first class."

The goal, which came with 13:32 left in the first half, broke the ice on a game that had seen plenty of opportunities.

Zanotelli was busy in the first frame, racking up eight saves, including two solid diving stops on a rebound and a breakaway.

Though Ranger keeper Kait Hovasse was less busy, her five saves allowed Lewis-Palmer to keep momentum through the half.

The second half saw more midfield play, as Cheyenne Mountain came out strong.

"In the first half, we were mainly on their end (of the field)," Alger said. "But they're a strong team defensively and in the second half they picked up their game."

With 16 minutes left, one of the only mistakes the Lewis-Palmer defense made nearly tied the game. Miscommunication between Hovasse and central defender Karly Sandoval led to a hesitant clearance.

The Indians' Claire Ross picked the ball up around 30 yards out with Hovasse off her line, but she could only fire just high.

From there, the Ranger defense held.

"We were on our heels to begin (the half), but I think our defense and everyone else adjusted well," Alger said.

Zanotelli finished with 12 saves, Hovasse six, and the Rangers took 10 corner kicks.

In a matchup of teams that have accounted for the last four 4A state titles, the postseason is coming quick.

"This was good for us heading toward the playoffs," Parsons said. "We have to learn how to win differently, and sometimes we have to grind out wins instead of playing a more finesse style."

"Knowing we can beat teams like (Cheyenne Mountain), this is what we look for."