LONGMONT — Heading into Thursday, the Skyline girls soccer team had outscored its opponents, 28-0, in its last three games.
The stats are nice, the wins are nice, but Falcons coach Kevin Puckett was begging for a challenge.
He got one.
The Cheyenne (Wyo.) East Thunderbirds came out strong in the second half Thursday to knock off the Falcons, 5-4, in a cold and snowy game.
“I’m glad we got this game to prepare for Greeley West (on Monday),” Puckett said. “Cheyenne East is probably
one of the top two or three teams in all of Wyoming.
“Those last couple of games, the girls were starting to get away from the fundamentals, so we needed this game.”
Nikki Marshall — who has scored in all six games this season — still thought the Falcons should have come away with this one.
“We absolutely should have won this game,” she said. “We just didn’t finish enough.”
The score was knotted at 1 at halftime, but the Thunderbirds came out and put three goals on Skyline in a hurry to take a 4-1 advantage.
Marshall then added her two goals — including a penalty kick with less than two minutes remaining — to keep the Falcons in it.
She now has an astounding 16 goals and eight assists on the young season, but Puckett said it’s nothing spectacular coming from her.
“That’s just Nikki,” he said. “She has a rare combination of desire, heart and speed.”
Desire and heart seem to be the themes of this Falcons team, which was down by as many as three goals late in the second half and then had a couple chances to tie it with less than a minute left.
“We’re definitely not the most talented team in the world,” Marshall said. “But this team’s strength is its desire and its heart. Every girl on the field wants to be there, and they play with so much passion.
“We’re going to pull it together, and I really think this team is capable of doing some great things.”
Puckett, even though the Falcons fell to Silver Creek earlier this season, still thinks Skyline has the talent to take home the city title.
“We’ll need Longmont or Niwot to beat Silver Creek,” he said, “and we obviously need to beat them to get it done, but I think we have the talent to do it.”
Puckett said the weather probably contributed to the Falcons’ woes Thursday, but they weren’t going to use it as an excuse. He said at least two of Cheyenne East’s goals could be attributed to it, though.
Tasha Heil also had a strong game for Skyline, scoring two goals. Puckett said she’s a big reason why Marshall is having such a successful season.
“Tasha’s probably the glue that holds this team together,” he said. “Nikki’s had a lot of easy goals because Tasha opens the field up so well.”
Skyline will get another challenge Monday when it heads to Greeley West (2-1), which has beaten both Longmont and Niwot this season.
Cheyenne (Wyo.) East 5, Skyline 4
at Skyline H.S.
Halftime score — Skyline 1, Cheyenne East 1
Goals — CE: Erickson 2, McHenry, Gallegos, Altenbern. S: Nikki Marshall 2, Tasha Heil 2.
Assists — CE: Erickson 2, McHenry. S: Marshall, Boddinger, Mapp.
Saves — CE: Johnson (80 min.) 10. S: Melinda Kolm (40 min.) 3; Samantha Wild (40 min.) 5.