Steamboat Springs One of Class 4A's premier scorers made the defensive play of her career Wednesday to help the Thompson Valley girls soccer team do something it hasn't since 1991.
While the Eagles' Coury Pitt will remember her goals that tied and put Thompson Valley ahead for good - her 19th and 20th scores of the year - it's the save the senior made in the 79th minute that will be most remembered, as 22nd-seeded Thompson Valley upended No. 11 Steamboat, 2-1, at Gardner Field.
Ahead 2-1 after Pitt won a 50-50 ball just outside the box in the 72nd minute to give the Eagles the go-ahead goal, the senior's biggest moment came just seven minutes later.
When a bounding ball escaped Thompson Valley keeper Meagan Holdeman's hands and landed at the feet of Steamboat's Kiersten Henry, Pitt found herself one-on-one in goal - a position she's never played.
Henry's shot, however, bounced off Pitt's outstretched foot. A couple of defensive clears later, Thompson Valley had advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
"I don't know. The two goals were awesome, but that defensive play saved the game," said Pitt, who played most of the contest with a partially broken collarbone.
"I play defense in club (competition) so I'm used to it. I know how to play it. I guess I can switch from offense to defense really fast."
In a game that saw each team go through momentum swings, members of each squad could have looked up at the scoreboard Wednesday and found themselves on top.
Steamboat got the early jump when junior Emi Birch scored on a free kick in the ninth minute. The junior hit a perfect shot from 22 yards out that just snuck under the crossbar and into the right corner.
Pitt got the equalizer in the 39th minute, when the senior got the ball just inside the box and beat Steamboat keeper Hanna Berglund to the short side.
Although the two teams went into the half tied at 1, it wasn't for a lack of opportunities.
In addition to two early corner kicks - one that made the back post without interruption - Thompson Valley got the best look in the 26th minute. Junior Emma Howard outraced two Steamboat defenders to the ball and had a point-blank opportunity that Berglund stopped. Then, in the 38th minute, the Eagles' Sydney Paulsen lofted a free kick just over the crossbar.
Steamboat's best chances to score the go-ahead goal came in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
With Pitt out of the lineup because of her collarbone, the Sailors instantly gained control of possession.
In the 45th minute, Steamboat's Joanie Bier lofted a shot of her own just above the crossbar. In the 55th, Birch's deflection off a corner kick again found the waiting arms of Holdeman.
Then, in the 60th, Birch just missed on another free kick. A Mia Quick header on a corner kick sailed just wide in the 61st.
"It was a hard-fought, scrappy game," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "The difference, in my opinion, is we could not quite settle down and play with composure. If we were able to do that a little more, we would have had a few more opportunities to go to goal. But that's easier said than done. Nobody ever said this was an easy game."
Pitt's return in the 57th minute seemed to spur on her teammates.
Steamboat's opportunities became fewer, then Pitt capitalized in the 72nd minute to put Thompson Valley up 2-1 for good.
"That's exactly it. She was all over the place," Eagles' coach Nate Hancock said about Pitt. "She was sideline to sideline and endline to endline. She's doing all that with a partially cracked collarbone. She's a senior, and she lost two (playoff) games. It's just an iron will."
Steamboat ends the season at 11-4-1. Thompson Valley advances to play the winner of a Saturday game between sixth-seeded Valor Christian and No. 27 Woodland Park.