It was certainly a grand birthday for Janelle Murphy. And it was one her teammates on the Mountain Vista High School co-operative girls field hockey …
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It was certainly a grand birthday for Janelle Murphy.
And it was one her teammates on the Mountain Vista High School
co-operative girls field hockey team had no problem sharing with
her Nov. 1 at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker.
Murphy, a sophomore at ThunderRidge High School, scored the game
winning goal in what became a 1-0 final over field hockey
powerhouse Kent Denver to earn the Golden Eagles the state
“I was just on the post at the right position,” Murphy said. “I
was just lucky to have it go in.”
The Golden Eagles went on to preserve the one-point lead and
keep the multiple-state championship winning, and defending title
holding, Sun Devils. It’s the first state championship title for
the Golden Eagles’ field hockey program, which pools players from
several Douglas County schools and even some from Littleton.
After the championship trophy was presented to the team and
massive celebration ensued with parents and other students taking
the field with the Eagles, Murphy was honored with a round of
“Happy Birthday” sung by her teammates and frosted treats.
“I’m still in shock,” Murphy said after the win. “Everyone on
the team all played great. We showed up and kicked some butt. I’m
so proud of everyone.”
Not only did Mountain Vista, the No. 3 seed in the tournament,
keep No. 1 Kent Denver from scoring in the championship finale, the
Eagles did not give up a single goal in the entire tournament.
Vista posted a 1-0 win over No. 6 Palmer Ridge in the first round
of the playoffs. They followed up with a 2-0 victory over No. 2
In goal for Vista through the tournament were Emily Hazard, a
sophomore, and Emily Thompson, a junior. Hazard was in goal when
the Eagles were crowned the new title holders. She said the team’s
defense was on high alert through the bracket, especially between
“Neither of us wanted to be the goalie who got scored on,”
Hazard said laughing. “We were fully focused and wanted to do
Kent Denver spent much of the final minutes in the Eagles’ end,
looking for the tying goal. Hazard came up with a couple of big
saves to dowse the Devils’ hopes of another banner in the
Despite being the No. 3 seed in an eight-team playoff bracket,
Vista wasn’t expected to make it out of the quarterfinals, let
alone make the championship finals for the first time ever, Hazard
“Everyone loves an underdog story,” Murphy said. “We love each
other so much, even though we’re from different schools.”
Hazard said the perfect ending to a strong season and flawless
playoff run couldn’t have been better for her personally.
“I have the best team, the best coaches and the best friends,”
she said. “I couldn’t have asked for better.”
Coach Brian Nutter, who started the co-op program at Mountain
Vista, said every girl contributed in the title win against a very
solid Kent Denver team.
“It doesn’t matter if they saw the field much or not. They had
to be there to push the other players to keep their own positions
on the field. They earned it,” Nutter said. “It’s one of those
nights where we played good enough defense and got a goal in to
make a difference.
“I would have never thought one goal would hold up against a
team like Kent Denver. Never would I have thought that. They are
just such a well-rounded, talented team. My girls just stepped up
and played hard.”
The success of the field hockey program highlights the pool of
athletic talent available in Highlands Ranch and surrounding
neighborhood even more. Nutter hopes to see the program grow and
even splinter at some point.
“We need more of that talent,” the coach said. “Eventually, we
would like to see a couple of programs in Douglas County. We just
need to get those numbers and keep developing the program and
spreading it to other schools, like with other sports like
“It’s a wonderful sport. And for the community, they should be
proud, cause it was a community effort that won [that] night.”
Mountain Vista field hockey graduates six seniors this season in
Akane Strader, Valerie Buccio, Katie Koch, Nicole Lewis, Logan
Smith and Maddie Landis.
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