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Girls soccer: End of the road for Eagle Ridge Academy

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By Steve Smith

 FORT LUPTON – The girls soccer season wasn't supposed to end quite so soon for Eagle Ridge Academy and for its first-year coach, Josh Gelok.

But Middle Park High School wasn't too concerned about those sorts of things. The Panthers used two goals from Ellie Mackendrick to beat the Warriors 4-0 in the second round of the state 3A girls soccer tournament May 11 at Fort Lupton High School.

ERA does not have a home field.

Both of Mackendrick's goals came off throw-ins. The person responsible for the throw-in, Taylor Ehlert, managed to heave the ball into goalie's box. In one instance, ERA goalkeeper Ruby Bocanegra blocked the throw-in, but it bounced off the crossbar and onto Mackendrick's foot.

"Heartbreaking," Gelok said. "The girls bought into the family first. We have five seniors on the team (first-time goalkeeper Bocanegra, Ceci Maldonado, Rhianna Klocker, Noelani Mathews and Annalysa Raninger). It was tough. We are young. We had seven freshmen starting. The future is good."

ERA's best chances to get on the scoreboard were in the second half. The Warriors managed to pull Panthers' goalie Jordan Emer out of the net. But a shot from Emily Hughes went wide in the 51st minute. In the 70th minute, ERA's Areli Mercado launched a free kick toward the goal. Emer made a two-fisted save to keep the shutout intact.

"Their second goal, you can't prepare for a girl who does a flip and throws the ball halfway into the goal box," Gelok said. "They got their third goal off that throw-in. If it's still 1-0, it's a different thing. The girls won't be trying to score by kicking it long. We could have stayed composed and played good soccer."

Eagle Ridge managed eight shots in the contest. MPHS goalkeeper Jordan Emer made one save. Peyton Olson played the last 4 1/2 minutes in net, and she made one save as well.

The soccer team was the first from Eagle Ridge Academy to advance into the second round of any state-level tournament.

"I'm excited for that. As I told them, we're not satisfied," Gelok said. "We're hungry. We'll come back. It's the start of a tradition. We have seven freshmen, two juniors starting and four juniors coming back. Makes me want to get going tomorrow."