Dakota Ridge senior Hannah Arnold scored her most important two goals of the season May 11 at Trailblazer Stadium.
Arnold scored in the 13th and 57th minutes in the first-round Class 4A girls soccer playoff game against Palmer Ridge, helping the No. 2-seeded Dakota Ridge grind out a 3-1 victory in the driving rain.
“It has been that same way all season,” Dakota Ridge coach John Cassidy said of his senior stepping up with the first two goals in the playoff opener. “Whenever we need something Hannah rises to the occasion. It is invaluable senior leadership. I’ve just enjoyed watching it.”
The Eagles (15-1 record) enjoyed Arnold putting in her 10th and 11th goals of the season to spoil the upset bid by No. 31-seeded Palmer Ridge.
“It wasn’t my first time doing it. Jordan (Whiteaker) and I have done that three times this season,” Arnold said of her first goal and the lone goal of the first half. “She does a little chip over the defense and I’m able to chip it over the goalkeeper.”
Arnold made it a 2-0 lead midway through the second half off a nice pass from freshman Kaylie Sheehan.
“It was a perfect play from Kaylie. She won it back and slipped a pass through the defense,” Arnold said. “I ran on behind it. The keeper came out and I slid it under her.”
A minute later the Eagles took a 3-0 lead off the 12th goal of the season by Dakota Ridge senior Bailey Pignatore.
However, Palmer Ridge pulled within 3-1 with its first goal in the 62nd minute.
“They are in tough conference, past Final Four and they have the experience,” Cassidy said of Palmer Ridge, who was a 4A state semifinal team last year. “We
don’t have the experience, but we are getting the experience. We knew it was going to be hard.”
Palmer Ridge (6-8-1) finished the season with six 1-goal losses and two 2-goal losses, including Thursday’s playoff loss to Dakota Ridge.
“Their ranking didn’t show how well they play,” Arnold said of the Bears that just made the playoff field after finishing 0-5 in the tough 4A Pikes Peak League. “I thought they were a good team the way they pass it around. We had to figure out how to work it ourselves and win the game."
The win advanced Dakota Ridge into the round of 16 on May 13, against No. 15 Central of Grand Junction. The Warriors (11-6) were no match for the Eagles at Lakewood Memorial Field. Dakota Ridge took a 5-0 victory to advance to the state quarterfinals.
Dakota Ridge was scheduled to face league rival Evergreen on May 16, after press deadline. The Eagles rallied from a 2-0 deficit against the Cougars in Dakota Ridge’s final conference game May 4.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.