BOULDER -- Brian Castruita used every part of his body within the realm of legality on Thursday night to get the job done on the soccer pitch.
When it comes to beating a rival team, it tends to work out that way.
In the epic dual that Boulder-Fairview soccer has become, Castruita became the latest player to be mauled by teammates and jilted by the opposition, as the Panthers midfielder finished off a corner kick chance in overtime at the Fairview field to pull out a 2-1 victory for the Panthers.
Yet untested Fairview, ranked No. 5 in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A soccer poll, played up to par in its first game of the season, but No. 6 Boulder earned its first win in what could be the toughest early season slate in all of Colorado.
"I think the difference for us was we knew we were struggling a little bit to begin the season," Castruita said. "We knew had to bring it, and we wanted this win because it's our first (Front Range League) game. The effort, we played with heart and played for each other."
With a great student crowd from both sides on hand feeding into the atmosphere, every ball in the air was an all-out war. Despite it being physical, the sportsmanship between the squads is also something to take notice of.
However, the Panthers walked away happier and they can thank the lay-it-on-the-line play of Castruita in the 88th minute. After getting a head on a cross, Castruita saw the ball come right back to him on the upper body, and he was able to muster enough of a push off the chest to get the ball past keeper Alex Ray.
"I saw it go off a defender and just came back through the ball with my chest and volleyed it, and that was it," Castruita said. "It's a pretty great feeling. I'm not going to lie, I did have (last year's series game) on my mind a little. But what matters is what happens today."
That set piece goal finished off a rally for Boulder as Fairview was vying for its second straight win in the series. The Knights, who won last year's game in overtime, took an early lead when Andre Miller shook off a defender to create a run in the 32nd minute, eventually leading to a pass and finish for Alex Weseman in front.
Just 5 minutes later, Boulder (1-1-1, 1-0 Front Range League) found an equalizer from Camdon Ford, who was playing his first game of the season.
"We had a nice combination down the left side ... but tit-for-tat, that's what that game was," Fairview coach Stan Jozwiak said. "We've just to be keep our heads up and be ready for the next battle, because that's the kind of league we're in and the competition that we come up against."
The Knights were playing their first game because Ralston Valley double-booked Fairview and another squad. Miller said he felt pretty good about the way Fairview started.
To be able to start the season against their favorite enemy, he said, will provide a spark despite the results.
"I'm disappointed in the result but I think we played a really great game," Miller said. "It gives you a lot of energy, and with the way we played I think we'll move forward well."
Boulder has now faced three straight ranked teams to start the year, including Smoky Hill and Rock Canyon. Saturday's meeting with Cherry Creek will extend that to four.
"Each game, the quality of soccer has been very good, just in controlling the tempo and creating those opportunities," head coach Hardy Kalisher said. "We're starting to figure out what it means to finish the job and get that win. The team spirit we have is special."
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BOULDER 2, FAIRVIEW 1
At Fairview HS
Boulder (1-1-1, 1-0) 1 0 1 — 2
Fairview (0-1, 0-1) 1 0 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Alex Weseman (Andre Miller), 32nd minute; Boulder: Camdon Ford (unassisted), 37th minute; Boulder: Brian Castruita (unassisted), 88th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Leo Huettel (88-1-6); Fairview: Alex Ray (88-2-8).