Ask Rock Canyon head coach Matt Henbest how his team has responded to its recent setback to No. 1 Mountain Vista, and he will tell you it's taken a couple games to bounce back, but he feels his team is in a good place for the stretch run.
The No. 2-ranked Jaguars (9-1, 6-1 Continental) won a pair of 1-0 games against Littleton and ThunderRidge after the loss to the Golden Eagles and went into the half leading by the same count against Douglas County on April 17.
That's when Henbest let his team know that it was time to step it up, start being crisper with their passes and be more aggressive. The result was a resounding 3-0 win over the visiting Huskies (7-4-1, 4-3-1).
“I was not very happy with the way they played at all in the first half so I kind of expressed that to them,” he said. “They answered the call. … That last half we put together was actually very good and we'll use that as kind of a spring board into the rest of the season and hopefully be ready for the playoffs.”
After a lifeless first half that had both coaches disappointed in the effort at the break, Rock Canyon came out firing. Junior forward Rebecca Pousma laced a laser past Douglas County keeper Seanna Parker from just inside the top of the penalty box just 2 minutes, 46 seconds into the half for a 2-0 lead.
The Huskies had their best scoring opportunity of the game roughly 10 minutes later, but with goaltender Julia Henning sprawling on the ground out of position and two Huskies converging on a loose ball at the goal line, sophomore defender Emily Sattem raced in and cleared the ball off the goal line, preserving the 2-0 lead.
Senior Alex Sundberg then fielded a lengthy pass from Rachel Reinhardt up the left side of the field, got behind the Douglas defense, and shot one across Parker into the opposite corner of the net with 15:19 to go for her first tally of the season.
Also scoring for Rock Canyon was sophomore Dakota Wendell, who got things started for the Jaguars with her third goal of spring with 5:16 left in the first half.
“I think it really started our whole attack,” Wendell said. “Before we were a little passive and then that started to get our fire going.”
Both teams were playing without their leading scorers in the match. Rock Canyon was missing Kaycie Young (8 goals) and Douglas County was without Rachel Muller (9 goals), who sprained her ankle in the Huskies' 4-0 win over Ponderosa on April 15.
“I think were flat pretty much the entire game,” Douglas County coach Ron Kingery said. “We were always reacting to the way Rock Canyon was playing and we never got into making things happen. … We've had some games this season where we played very well and snuck by. We've also had times where we didn't play well. Against Rock Canyon, you can't bring your B game and expect to win. We just have to regroup.”
“In the second half they stepped up and we definitely did not,” admitted Douglas County senior midfielder Cassi Fischer, who is third on the team in scoring with six goals. “Our heads weren't in it today. As long as we get our heads back in it and work hard, we'll be fine. We are looking forward to making the playoffs hopefully. That's what we are shooting for.”
The Huskies were slated to play at No. 1 Mountain Vista (10-0-1, 7-0-1) April 22, host Littleton (3-6-1, 0-6-1) April 24 and travel to ThunderRidge (5-4, 4-3) April 29 to close out the regular season before finding out if they accomplish that goal.
Rock Canyon, which is a lock for the postseason had scheduled home games April 22 against Chaparral (0-10, 0-8) and April 24 against Highlands Ranch (6-5, 5-3). The Jaguars then close out with league games April 28 at Castle View (5-3-1, 3-3-1) and April 29 at Regis (6-1-3, 5-0-2), and play May 1 at Dakota Ridge (5-7).