BOULDER -- During the preseason, veteran Fairview boys soccer coach Stan Jozwiak proclaimed, perhaps only half-jokingly, that the theme of the Knights' 2012 campaign might be "life without Shane O'Neill."
It has been easy to wonder what sort of squad the Knights would bring to the pitch this year. Not only did they lose O'Neill, the all-state midfielder who signed with the Colorado Rapids shortly after graduation, but Fairview's depth and overall talent level was further depleted when a few players opted to spend this season training with U.S. Soccer Development Academies.
Yet apparently if Eric Kronenberg and Jack Mayfield have any say in the matter, it still will be a good life for Fairview.
Both seniors scored two goals during the first half Saturday morning, as the Knights used a dominant opening salvo to post a 4-0 season-opening victory against Silver Creek.
"We don't have a lot of returning varsity players and today was just seeing what kind of play we can work with," Kronenberg said. "I think we showed that we have a pretty strong offense. Us returning players are really trying to set an example for the new kids. We're really trying to drive everyone to give everything they can. The group is stepping up to the plate."
Fairview struck for three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 27 seconds early in the first half to quickly put the game away.
Kronenberg recorded the Knights' first goal of the season on a breakaway chance, providing a quick counter after the ball caromed from the Fairview defensive zone toward midfield. Once Kronenberg beat Silver Creek goalkeeper Greg Nissen, the floodgates opened for the Knights.
Mayfield took advantage of a miscue by Nissen moments later, as the Raptors goalie overextended himself when he raced from his penalty area in an attempt to clear the ball. Instead the clearing attempt found Mayfield, who scored an easy goal into the vacated net from about 35 yards out.
Kronenberg added his second goal just 68 seconds later before Mayfield capped the scoring with 1:15 left in the first half.
"We definitely have an explosive offense that can create a lot of opportunities," Mayfield said. "We've got some chemistry through the back and midfield to up top. Our preseason was a little rough, but it's good to come out in the first game and get the win. Hopefully we can carry it through."
The new-look Knights will learn in a hurry just how they measure up not only within the Front Range League, but statewide in Class 5A as well. Next week, Fairview faces challenging nonconference games against Ralston Valley and Cherry Creek before opening league play at Fossil Ridge. The Knights then will play at Abraham Lincoln, one of the top programs out of the Denver Prep League.
"We set (the schedule) up that way," Jozwiak said. "The Front Range League will be as tough as it's been the last couple years and will probably have some teams that will go deep in the tournament. We don't put a lot of slouches on the schedule. We try to go up against teams that will be representative of teams that we'll have to compete for the league title and hopefully will see if we get into the postseason."
After opening the season with a 1-1 draw against a solid Palmer Ridge club on Thursday, Silver Creek saw its defense exposed by Fairview's quick and talented attackers. Head coach Shane Smith promised his club would regroup in time for the Raptors' 4A Northern League opener next week at Thompson Valley.
"Going to the ball was probably our biggest downfall today," Smith said. "We were having a tendency of not going to the ball. That will definitely be a focus next week, and I'll continue to work with that defensive line. I've got a couple new guys we are trying back there at the moment, but the next game is a league game. That takes on a different air."
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07
Fairview 4, Silver Creek 0
At Fairview H.S.
Silver Creek (0-1-1) 0 0 -- 0
Fairview (1-0) 4 0 -- 4
Goals (assists) -- Fairview: Eric Kronenberg, 9th minute; Jack Mayfield, 12th minute; Kronenberg (Mayfield), 13th minute; Mayfield (Raul Mango), 38th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) -- Silver Creek: Greg Nissen (80-4-0); Fairview: Alan Schuererman (66-0-3), Casey Andringa (14-0-0).