ARVADA — Simply put, Ralston Valley junior Raleigh Greason is unstoppable.

The leading Class 5A girls soccer goal scorer this season put a trio of goals into the back of the net in the postseason opener Tuesday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. Greason — 32 goals on the season —bent on a pair of corner-kicks and sealed the victory with a rare empty net goal in the final seconds.

“Set pieces are a big part of the game,” Greason said of the two corner kicks she scored on. “If I can’t bend it in I know one of my teammates will get a head on it.”

No. 5-seeded Ralston Valley escaped with a 3-1 victory over No. 28 Cherokee Trail. The Mustangs (13-2-1 record) will face No. 21 Highlands Ranch (8-6-2) in the round of 16 at 6 p.m. Friday, May 10, at the NAAC.

The Falcons upset No. 12 Denver East 2-0 on Tuesday.

“Coming into this game, we didn’t play our fullest,” Greason said. “I know on Friday we can.”

It was a bit of a dicey first-round game for the 5A Jeffco League champs. Greason bent in her first corner-kick goal in the 7th minute, but Cherokee Trail (5-8-3) responded when Kiana Sparrow’s centering pass deflected off a Mustang and into the goal in the 9th minute to tie things up 1-1.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Things got a little weirder when a fast moving squall with wind, rain and snow actually delayed the game for about 10 minutes midway through the first half.

Ralston Valley had the majority of possession and scoring chances, but the game was still tied at 1-1 late in the second half.

“I don’t know if I call it frustrating,” Ralston Valley coach Kamee Morwood said of the Mustangs dominating scoring chances, but unable to break the tie. “It’s scary because we’ve been in games like this before when you go, go, go and then your opponent has one transition and it goes in.”

Greason was finally able to break the tie in the 75th minute. Her corner kick curled near the goal mouth. Cherokee Trail junior goalie Kiley Hyde got a fist on the ball, but it wasn’t enough and the ball went into the back of the net to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.

“We knew the build up was coming. We knew the goal was coming,” Coach Morwood said. “You just hope it happens before one of those transition momentums.”

It was then Ralston Valley senior goalie Margot Mulhern’s turn to come up big. The Cougars got some pressure in the Mustangs’ defensive zone in the final minutes. A floating shot looked like it was destined to get under the crossbar, but Mulhern making a leaping save to tip the ball over the crossbar with under a minute to play to prevent the game-tying goal.

“I had to make the save at the end,” Mulhern said. “I work on those in practice. It was kind of a routine save for me.”

Ralston Valley has given up just five goals during its current 10-game winning streak.

“Margot has become clutch here at the end of the season,” Coach Morwood said. “She keeps us in games. You can’t ask her for anything more than that.”

Cherokee Trail had a corner kick after the save by Mulhern, but the ball was headed out of danger and freshman Evilyn Morwood was able to clear it out of the goalie box to the feet of Greason.

“I saw her (Hyde) going in when they had the corner-kick,” Greason said of the Cougars pulling their goalie forward on the corner kick. “Seeing the keeper come out I knew my teammates are good on flicking corner-kicks out. When Evilyn flicked that ball out to me I knew the keeper wasn’t there. I just took off.”

Greason raced down the field and eventually kicked the ball into the empty net with 26.7 seconds remaining to advance the Mustangs into the second round.

“I’m super proud of them going after it in the second half,” Coach Morwood said. “They didn’t want this to be their last game. They kept going, going, going until it was over. It worked out well for us tonight.”

It worked out well for the Jeffco League in the opening round. No. 16 Valor Christian, No. 19 Columbine and No. 29 Arvada West all joined Ralston Valley in the round of 16 coming up Friday. A-West had the biggest upset victory in the opening round with a shootout victory against No. 4 Cherry Creek.