Lewis-Palmer wins 4A PPAC girls' soccer crown

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Photo - Lewis-Palmer goalkeeper Haley Arsenault makes a save against Air Academy Tuesday, May 3, 2016, during the second half at Air Academy High School. Lewis-Palmer won 1-0.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Lewis-Palmer goalkeeper Haley Arsenault makes a save against Air Academy Tuesday, May 3, 2016, during the second half at Air Academy High School. Lewis-Palmer won 1-0. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Shortly after the final whistle sounded, Lewis-Palmer posed for a team picture. It signified the first of two goals the Rangers set out to obtain when the season started.

Lewis-Palmer finished the regular season with an undefeated conference record and clinched the outright 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference title with a 1-0 road win over Air Academy.

The game played out as expected, with both teams playing terrific defense wire-to-wire. There were few legitimate scoring chances for either side, and the teams combined for fewer than 10 shots on goal.

"I'm just extremely happy for our girls, because we know this is the toughest conference in the state, and to win it means a lot," Lewis-Palmer coach Joe Martin said. "My hat's off to (Coach) Espen (Hosoien) and the girls from Air Academy because they really did play a tough, great game."

The 4A PPAC features three of the top teams in the state, and two of those teams battled it out for the regular-season title Tuesday night. The other team is defending state champion Cheyenne Mountain.

The winner between the Kadets (9-3-2, 5-1-1) and Rangers (13-1, 7-0 4A PPAC) was going to be the team which capitalized on a scoring chance. Lewis-Palmer standout Brianna Alger was the one who scored the game and conference-winning goal.

With 9:20 left in the scoreless contest, Sarah Lyons took the ball after an Air Academy turnover and fed it to Alger - a Washington State commit - who was able to beat goalkeeper Katie Scott.

"Winning a game like this is always better than winning with a lot of scoring, especially when it's for the league title," Alger said. "This has been a great season, and we've accomplished some goals, but now we're ready for the playoffs."

Hosoien remained upbeat and was pleased with the way his team played. He thinks playing games like this will benefit his team in the state tournament.

"We knew they're the top-ranked team in the state in 4A (according to Maxpreps.com), and that it was going to be a good game, but I'm really proud of my team because they played hard," Hosoien said. "I don't really think one team was better than the other, and they were evenly matched. We always want to win league titles, because that's what we play for. But we played hard and have no reason to hang our heads."

While Air Academy regroups for a playoff run, Lewis-Palmer hopes the roll it's been on continues. The Rangers have won 12 straight and are undefeated against 4A competition.

After losing to Cheyenne Mountain via penalty kicks in last year's state title game, Lewis-Palmer is ready to make another run at the trophy.

"Last year we might've taken the opportunity we had for granted, so this year we'll come out strong from the beginning and get the job done," Alger said. "There are no easy wins in this conference, and it helps prepare us for state."