The first round of the state tournament haunts the Demons no more.
Durango High School’s girls soccer team had been bounced out of the first round of the state tournament seven of the last eight trips to the postseason. The Demons hadn’t won a first-round playoff game since 2008. It was history a team that has played as a family all season was eager to forget.
Two goals in the opening 11 minutes of play did that, and the No. 9 Demons cruised to a 6-0 home victory against No. 24 Cañon City in the first round of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A Girls Soccer State Championships.
“It’s huge for them,” DHS head coach Dalon Parker said of his team’s win. “I think honestly people are going to start seeing us play better, more consistent soccer. We don’t have that nervousness about having not getting out of the first round. Now, we just gotta play. If we run across a team better than us, so be it.”
The next team in line for the Demons (12-4) is No. 8 Mullen (11-5), who will host Durango on Saturday in the second round of the tournament.
Before worrying about Mullen, the Demons took time to celebrate together as a team on their home field where they went 6-0 in their first season on the new turf at DHS. The team gathered for a team photo in front of the scoreboard, and their love for each other showed throughout the match.
Durango’s energy was evident during warmups, even as pouring rain fell and continued for the majority of the match. The slick turf couldn’t slow the Demons’ attack, which reeled off three quick scoring chances before senior Peyton Floyd scored the game’s first goal in the 8th minute. It came on a corner kick by Taylor Klone, and Floyd got her head on the ball at the peak of her jump to direct it in for a goal.
Moments later, Floyd was tripped in the box, giving the Demons a penalty kick. Klone buried the opportunity in the bottom right corner of the goal, giving Cañon City (11-4-1) goalkeeper Lizzy McCalla no chance to make a save.
“We took all of our nerves out in the first 15 minutes,” Floyd said. “We played really fast and hard for each other with as much communication with each other as possible so we would all be comfortable. Most of our shots came in that first 15 minutes because we were working so hard. The goals were so relieving because we wanted it so badly.”
The Demons added another goal in the first half, as Mara Morrissey found a perfect crossing pass from Klone for another goal. Chloe Taylor got the ball at the top of the box, made a beautiful move to shake a defender and feed a pass to Klone. As McCalla was drawn out of the goal, Klone slipped the pass to Morrissey for the strike.
Morrissey added a second goal in the 51st minute. A loose ball in the box found her, and she turned and fired another shot past McCalla.
“It was kind of insane,” Morrissey said of her goals. “I’m not usually the scoring type. When I pulled those two out, it was kind of random but it was really fun.”
Lane Arnwine, a senior who had three beautiful runs on the ball that nearly resulted in goals in the first half, finally broke free for a goal four minutes into the second half.
Madeleine Dearien tacked on the Demons’ final goal of the game to add to the well-rounded scoring attack.
Floyd said the team’s goal was to win more than 75 percent of the balls in the midfield.
“We accomplished that, and I couldn’t be happier with the midfield line today,” she said.
Durango outshot Cañon City 25-2 and put 10 shots on goal. The Demons also took 10 corner kicks, a set piece that usually favors the Demons.
“They’ve been pretty big all year,” Klone said of corners, which she normally takes. “A lot of our goals come from them. They’re fun, and we practice them a lot, even before games.”
Mullen defeated No. 25 Palmer Ridge 3-1 on Wednesday. The game was tied at halftime, and the Mustangs put it away with two second-half goals. Parker believes his team can beat the private school from Denver. After playing elite Class 5A schools to begin the season and learning valuable lessons from bus rides to Denver, the Demons are comfortable traveling to play with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line.
Floyd said she is fighting for one more game every time out, as are all five seniors who want to push as far as they can before going separate directions in college.
“We’re a team, a family, a unit,” Parker said. “We’re seeing how much they enjoy being around each other. When you have no drama, you get to see the girls love on each other, play for each other, play for their seniors and have fun together. That’s what we’re doing.”