Colorado Academy Capture 4th Straight State Title

Colorado Academy made history on Saturday.  With a 1-0 win over Cherry Creek High School, the Mustangs won their 4th straight Colorado State Championship, something no team in the state has done before.  They also become the first team ever to make it to 5 straight state championship games. 

The state of Colorado has 13 High School field hockey programs and Colorado Academy has established itself as the top program and team to beat in recent years.  The win on Saturday brings the program's active unbeaten streak to 70 games, with the last time the the Mustangs lost a game dating all the way back to 2011.  The senior class of 8 players will graduate with an impressive resume: 4 state championships and never losing a game.  This incredible achievement is something we only hear about with the nation's top programs like Watertown High School in Massachusetts and Eastern High School in New Jersey.  Now we add Colorado Academy to that elite group.

Despite the continued success and dominance of the program over the last couple of years, Colorado Academy actually began the 2015 season ranked 2nd in the CHSAANow.com Preseason Poll (the association’s official poll which is calculated by a coaches vote).  Palmer Ridge High School was voted the favorite going into the season.  Perhaps coaches questionned how the team would fair without the incredibly talented senior class of 6 they graduated from their 2014 17-0 state championship squad, including 2-time Colorado State Player-of-the-Year Sterre Van Ede and all-state player Julia Murphy.

"For me, in terms of our team, last year at the end of the season, I knew this season would be about TEAM and not individuals, and truly it came together that way - a team all the way," commented second year Head Coach Veronica Scott on the team's transition from 2014 to 2015.  "Ultimately it was our team effort that constantly took us over the line each game," Scott added.

It didn't take long for the Mustang team to reclaim the top spot.  Rolling through the regular season 14-0-1 and finishing league play 11-0-1 (their lone tie coming in a 1-1 game against Golden High School on 10/7), CA outscored their opponents 57-6 to finish at the top of the league standings and earn the #1 seed in the state tournament.  

CA defeated the #8 seed, Smoky Hill High School, in the first round 3-0 to move on to meet #4 Palmer Ridge in the semifinal, a team they are very familiar with meeting in the playoffs.  CA knocked Palmer Ridge out of the state tournament the past 4 years (in the semifinals last year and 2013, the finals in 2012 and the semifinals in 2011).  2015 would be no different.  CA edged Palmer Ridge 4-2 (who finished 11-4-1) behind a balanced offense that had four different goal scorers to move onto the final where they would meet the #3 seed Cherry Creek.
 



CA and Cherry Creek met during the regular season on October 3rd in a close game that CA won 2-1.  The championship final would bring another close match-up.  After a scoreless first half with few quality chances for either team, the Mustangs brought a higher level of intensity into the second half and began to pick up a little momentum.  Experience and confidence from playing in the championship game the previous years may have been a key factor for CA settling into the game in the second half and maintaining their composure.  Shortly after a goal by Clara Petch was brought back (called a dangerous play), senior Sammy Little would be in the right place at the right time to put CA on the board as she got behind the Bruins goalkeeper and connected with an assist from senior Maddie Webster.  Little's goal gave the Mustangs the 1-0 lead and would prove to be the eventual game winner.  The goal was just her second goal of the season.   

 

The 2015 CHSAA State Championship title marks the end of the careers of a very impressive senior class.  The group scored 42 of the team’s 65 goals on the season, including 6 of the team’s 8 playoff goals.  Senior Clara Petch led the team and state of Colorado in scoring with 18 goals (she also added 14 assists for a total of 50 points for the season).  Petch contributed to the offense in all 18 games and scored at least 1 goal in 17 of the 18 games (the game she did not score, she contributed 2 assists).  Senior Maddie Webster, who had the championship game winning assist, finished second in scoring, contributing 11 goals and 3 assists on the season.  At the other end of the field, senior Emma Richards led a defense (along with junior goalkeeper Bridget Sutter) that finished the 2015 season with 12 shutouts and allowed the fewest goals in the state with 8.

 

Seniors: Captains Emma Richards (#4) & Maddie Webster (#5), Sage Lochhead (#10), Loida Luna (#12),
Clara Petch (#13), Jackie Melberg (#15), Evan Doherty (#16), Sammy Little (#17)

 
Colorado Academy finished the 2015 season at 17-0-1, outscoring opponents 65-8 and making Colorado Field Hockey history claiming their 4th straight state title, something that has never been done before.  Throughout the season the Mustangs proved their success transcends a player or groups of player and is a result of the rich tradition that has become Colorado Academy Field Hockey.

"I am very proud of the team and how they stepped up when necessary, be it putting in the extra work at practice, or just ensuring time for each other off the field. We also couldn't have had the success we did without the support of the school community as whole. I am fortunate to have followed in some strong footsteps and enjoy the traditions that have been set before me in continuing to build a great all-around FH program at CA," commented Head Coach Veronica Scott.


“We are proud of the achievements of the girls and the coaches.  Veronica Scott has done a great job continuing the great tradition that was started years ago,” said Colorado Academy Athletic Director Bill Hall.  “The girls worked extremely hard filling the vacuum created by graduation.  Next year will provide another challenge, however, we have some tremendous talent returning in the class of ’17, including Nellie Turnage, Isabelle Chandler, and goalkeeper Bridget Sutter.”

Colorado Academy has made 14 trips to the state championship game (1977, 1992-93, 1997-98, 2004-07, 2011-15) and won 7 times since 1977 (1992, 1993, 1997, 2012-15).  Can they make it 5 in 2016?

The Mustangs currently hold the #6 spot in MAXFieldHockey.com's West/MidWest Region Rankings.



*All Photos are courtesy of Marc Piscotty

The game-winning goal scorer senior Sammy Little hoists the championship trophy