Delta girls soccer makes program history prior to season’s end

There’s always pressure in being the first to do something. For the Delta High School girls soccer team, that came to a head last week as the No. 14-seeded Panthers hosted No. 19 Salida on Tuesday.

Delta had yet to win a playoff game in the program’s relatively short history. They had defeated the Spartans 4-1 roughly one month before the playoff rematch and all the focus was on them to win again.While Delta coach Audrey Reedy said it wasn’t always pretty, the Panthers got it done with a 3-1 victory.

“The initial feeling was almost like relief,” Reedy said of the postgame environment. “There was all this build up and they knew they could do it — that this team could be the one to get that playoff win. Then there was excitement that they actually won it.”

In the first 15 minutes, Lexi Todd’s corner kick pinballed around the box and settled at the feet of Aylin Bales, who tapped in the opening goal. It was Todd who found the net again before halftime. She threw the ball in only to have it deflected back at her. Bales’ looping shot found the net after a failed deflection attempt from the goalkeeper, giving Delta a 2-0 lead at the break.

Salida scored first after halftime, but Jessie Black put away her 31st — and final — goal of the season in the game’s waning moments to set the final score at 3-1.

“For the majority of these girls, they hadn’t played in a playoff game before,” Reedy said. “We made the playoffs three seasons ago, then it was COVID, then it was a post-COVID season with a smaller bracket that we missed out on.

“It wasn’t our cleanest game. They had to dig deep and mentally know that they could get it done.”

Two days later, the Panthers lost 7-0 to No. 3 Colorado Academy in Lakewood. Reedy said the result was jarring, but a good learning experience overall.

“It’s really good for them to have experienced this when they’re so young,” Reedy said. “Now they know what it takes to win a playoff game, and what it takes to compete at that next level.”

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