MONUMENT - Midway through the second overtime of the 2015 4A girls state soccer final, Lewis-Palmer midfielder Sarah Lyons launched an expertly placed shot on goal.
For an instant, it looked as if L-P would rule the state, but the shot clanged off the crossbar and bounced almost straight down.
No goal, right?
Wrong, said L-P goalkeeper Haley Arsenault.
"It crossed the line," Arsenault said. "I'm just going to say that."
She laughed as she thought back, but it was not a happy laugh.
A few minutes after the Lyons goal that wasn't a goal, L-P players watched Cheyenne Mountain holding the state title trophy. C-M players were dancing and shouting while L-P's Rangers were weeping.
Immediately after an epic state title loss that required two overtimes and penalty kicks, the Rangers began plotting. They had been denied a title in 2015.
They would not be denied in 2016.
On Wednesday night, L-P coach Joe Martin was smiling in the fading sunlight. He was relaxed and happy after his top-seeded Rangers demolished No. 32 seed Mesa Ridge, 10-0, in the first round of the state playoffs.
He's twice watched video of the Lyons shot. He won't directly say Lyons scored a goal.
"Very questionable," he said.
It's clear he agrees with Arsenault, and several dozen other L-P players and supporters, but he decided months ago to shift his focus from a game in 2015 to a season in 2016.
"It gives us a lot of motivation," Martin said of coming oh-so close to ruling the state last season. "That sticks in the back of their minds. They want to get back to that game. They want to get back to that opportunity again."
The Rangers have been mighty this season. They have outscored opponents, 67-7, led by a stingy defense and Brianna Alger's 25 goals. They have not lost since March 12 and are riding a 14-game winning streak into the second round of the playoffs.
This dominance follows a trend. Over the past two seasons, the Rangers have won 32 of 36 games.
Martin emphasized mercy in Wednesday's rout. He used all of his players, quickly emptying the bench after the Rangers bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. Even Arsenault scored a goal. She usually stops shots, but enjoyed sending a rocket to the back of the net in the second half.
For many Colorado teams, a win in the first round of the playoffs is a big deal. L-P is not one of those teams. The Rangers have been looking to obliterate a bad memory for almost a year. Only a title can erase the pain of coming so close.
"We want to let go of it and not look back on it, but that just makes us want it more," Arsenault said. "We want it so bad."
The team has walked a difficult path this season. Martin keeps preaching humility and commands his players to concentrate on today.
The Rangers have been listening, but only kind of.
"We're expecting to get back there and actually win this time," Arsenault said.