EVERGREEN — The dreams come true for Northfield senior Lelsey Vasquez-Malpica at Evergreen High School on Tuesday, May 17.
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2021-2022, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
“I had a dream earlier that we won 3-0,” Vasquez-Malpica said during the celebration by the Nighthawks after the conclusion of the Class 4A state quarterfinal game at Evergreen High School. “It came true.”
The No. 7-seeded Northfield Nighthawks upset No. 2 Evergreen on the Cougars’ home field 3-0 to advance to the 4A state semifinals.
“All season long this was the game we wanted,” Northfield coach Daniel Nestor said of the rematch against the Cougars 11 months after the first-round postseason loss at Evergreen High School. “Tonight we wanted to change up the script. Looks like it turned out OK.”
The 2-0 first-round loss to the eventual 4A state runner-up Cougars last season was actually the last loss for Northfield. The Nighthawks’ lone blemish this year was a scoreless tie against Fossil Ridge back on March 24.
Northfield (18-0-1 record) came out with a ton of energy and push forward in the opening 20 minutes against the Cougars (15-2-1). Vasquez-Malpica rocketed a shot from outside the goal box in the 12th minute to get the Nighthawks on the board.
“I was going to my right and then cut it back to the left,” Vasquez-Malpica said walking through the opening goal. “I’m not a lefty so right foot it is. It went in.”
It was the 17th goal of the season to go along with her remarkable 36 assists in 18 games.
“Lesley is a playmaker. She is a very special player,” Nestor said. “They don’t come around very often. She is the leader of the group. I love the kid. She is a straight baller.”
Freshman goalie Chloe Rhodes kept it a 1-0 lead for Northfield thanks to two remarkable saves in the 20th and 30th minutes of the first half. The Cougars had the ball right at the goal line on both occasions, but Rhodes came up with the saves.
“We easily could have been down 2-1,” Nestor said of the two huge saves by Rhodes in the first half. “Evergreen is fanatic at the counter-attack moving forward. I can’t commend our freshman keeper stepping up and making probably the two biggest saves I’ve seen over the course of my career.”
Rhodes had another big save on Evergreen junior Lindsay Jeans in the opening minutes of the second half.
“They were really hungry,” Evergreen coach Peter Jeans said of the Nighthawks. “They played really hard and very effectively. They took their chance in the first half when they had it. That got us on our back foot and we were behind the 8-ball the rest of the night.”
Northfield put the game away with goals by sophomore Betza Contreras-Martinez (65th minute) and freshman Emma Gustafson (77th minute) to seal the victory and the first trip to the semifinals for the young program.
“All the respect to Evergreen. They have a great tradition here,” Nestor said. “We are trying to establish that tradition at our school right now.”
It is a bit of the end of an era for the Cougars with the Rapp triplets — Elizabeth, Rami and Catherine — graduating and moving onto Division I programs next school year. Evergreen had amassed a 42-7-3 record over the last four years, which included the cancelled Spring 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic.
Evergreen was the state runner-up in 2019 and 2021, but couldn’t get past the upstart Nighthawks to reach a third state semifinal over the past four years.
“The next season always starts right after you lose that last game of the season,” Coach Jeans said. “We’ll work really hard in the off-season and try to go after a conference title and try to make a nice playoff run next year.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.