COLORADO SPRINGS -- Whenever a team loads up on elite competition early in the soccer season, often turning a nonconference schedule into an unenviable grind, coaches inevitably talk about how the rugged run of opponents will pay dividends once the postseason rolls around.
Of course, that approach only works if said team manages to pick up a victory or two in the state tournament. And on Thursday night, despite a 2012 slate heavy on heavyweights, Silver Creek pretty much did what it has done all season against some of the state's best teams -- the Raptors came close, but they couldn't quite seal the deal.
Despite taking an early lead, the 24th-seeded Raptors couldn't sustain the momentum against ninth-seeded Cheyenne Mountain, surrendering a pair of second-half goals en route to a 2-1 defeat in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
Silver Creek, which posted a 0-6-2 mark during the regular season against teams that reached either the Class 4A or 5A state tournaments, ends the season with a 5-7-4 record.
"We were focused, but we didn't play with the same level of intensity that we played with in the first half," Silver Creek coach Shane Smith said. "We talked at halftime and we knew the team that was more intense out there in the second half was going to win the game. It's not that we got outplayed, we just lost our intensity there.
"We took on a tougher schedule for a reason with the same focus. We're trying to get better every year. I think we've got a great program. We've still got our heads held high even though we lost."
Silver Creek certainly entered the match undaunted, taking advantage of an opportunistic scoring chance early to put the host Indians on their heels.
In the 13th minute, Silver Creek junior Cameron Guzman launched a corner kick that remained alive deep within Cheyenne Mountain's penalty area. Manuel Steinbach fired a shot that was saved by Cheyenne Mountain goalie Slade Custer, but Johnathon Wright was able to clean up the rebound to give the Raptors a 1-0 edge.
"We had so much confidence and we had all the intensity," Wright said. "We thought we had the game, basically. But then in the second half it changed. We had a good overall season. We worked hard and we played some good games. We tied the top two seeds in the tournament (Palmer Ridge and Broomfield). We just had a few rough starts, and in this one they had a great second half."
Silver Creek took its one-goal advantage into the break but was unable to keep the shackles on Cheyenne Mountain's attack, as the Indians' Christian Nehme scored both goals to help eliminate the Raptors.
Nehme scored his first goal less than 3 minutes after halftime, tracking down a crossing pass from Tyler Burns to head home the equalizer. Nehme struck again 12 minutes later, getting free after a long service pass was kept alive immediately in front of Silver Creek goalie Greg Nissen.
"The foundations have been laid by the boys last year and the boys this year," Smith said. "We have a quality program and I know we'll be back."
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Cheyenne Mountain 2, Silver Creek 1
At Cheyenne Mountain H.S.
Silver Creek (5-7-4) 1 0 -- 1
Cheyenne Mountain (11-4-1) 0 2 -- 2
Goals (assists) -- Silver Creek: Johnathon Wright, 13th minute. Cheyenne Mountain: Christian Nehme (Tyler Burns), 43rd minute; Nehme, 55th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) -- Silver Creek: Greg Nissen (80-2-2); Cheyenne Mountain: Slade Custer (80-1-1).