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LAKEWOOD — Columbine’s girls soccer team continues to head in the right direction.

The Rebels — No. 6 in last week’s CHSAANow.com Class 5A rankings — captured their fifth straight victory April 18 at Lakewood Memorial Field with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Arvada West.

A centering pass from junior Thai Quallich found senior Kacie Laurie with a minute to play in regulation. Laurie was able to head the ball past A-West senior goalie Veronica Vessa, who was brilliant in net keeping the Wildcats in the game.

“It was a great service from Thai Quallich,” Columbine coach Brian Todd said of the eventual game-winning goal with exactly a minute to play in regulation. “Kacie snuck around the backside and had a free header. It was tough conditions for the goalie looking right into the sun, but it was a clean header and a great finish.”

It was the third goal of the season for Laurie and sixth assist of the year for Quallich, who also leads the Rebels with nine goals.

“On that last play we knew we just had a minute left,” Laurie said. “Since we had so many chances anyone would do whatever to get one it.”

A-West (6-4-1, 2-2 in 5A Jeffco) took a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute with a goal by junior Ellie Pugliese. However, Columbine (8-1-1, 4-0) dominated the scoring chances and tied things up in the 15th-minute with a rocket shot by junior Andrea Iljkic.

“Credit to Arvada West, its defensive shape and goalkeeper played really well together,” Todd said. “I would agree that we had the better of the play and created the most chances. We just didn’t finish them. That has been a little bit of the story for us this season.”

It was the sixth game this season for Columbine where the outcome was determined by two goals or less. The Rebels edge rival Chatfield a week ago to open conference play.

“We are starting to put away late chances,” Laurie said. “A win is a win.”

The win kept Columbine neck and neck with No. 2 Valor Christian (9-0, 4-0) for the conference title. The two will meet in both teams’ 5A Jeffco League finale on Monday, May 2, at Valor Christian High School. 

“I think it’s going to go through Valor again. They are the reigning league champs,” Todd said. “We are just looking to putting us in a position when we got to Valor to be in the running to have a chance at a league title. We’ve got games before that, but we are on track right now.”

Columbine won its sixth straight with another 2-1 victory against Ralston Valley (6-2-1, 2-2) on April 21, at the North Area Athletic Complex. 

“We have a long road ahead of us still,” Laurie said. “We still have to work on creating and finishing chances. Grinding through these close games are going to help us as we get later in the season.”

A-West ended its two-game losing streak April 21 with a 3-0 victory against Lakewood at the NAAC following the Columbine/Ralston Valley showdown.

Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.