LOUISVILLE — Despite his team's 1-0 defeat to Fairview, Monarch head coach Marcelo Balboa couldn't help but smile as rain cascaded down his face.
"In a game like this, it takes one great play or one mistake, and that's what happened," Balboa said. "They came in and got the goal. That's the beauty of soccer. But I have to say that I'm very proud of our boys because last year we went to their place and got our hat handed to us. This year, they played well, they played at home and they played like a team."
According to Fairview coach Stan Jozwiak, a torrential downpour throughout the entire 80 minutes created a defensive battle in which both teams struggled to find scoring chances.
"The conditions dictated (a defensive battle), and it was through both halves," Jozwiak said.
The one exception occurred in the 58th minute, when Fairview's Andy Vaughn played a perfect through ball between a pair of Coyote defenders into the box for teammate Wyatt Dessell, who fired a shot from 12 yards and found a spot just inside the far post for the game's only goal.
"Both teams got into the game (in the second half)," Jozwiak said. "The emotion factor started to kick in, and it was a wide open second half. Both teams had some pretty good chances, and we were fortunate to convert that one."
Both defenses dominated the first half as the ball remained almost entirely in the center of the field, with Monarch managing just a pair of shots on goal and Fairview limited to only one.
The teams regrouped during halftime, attempting to stay dry while crowded under a tent and a multitude of umbrellas that proved clearly inferior to the driving rain.
Already soaked beyond caring, the teams came out energized in the second half.
Although Fairview held a significant edge in time of possession, it was Monarch that put four shots on goal in the final 40 minutes, including a pair of shots in the 60th minute that were only stopped thanks to some acrobatic moves by Knights goalie Danny Richards, who made another save a minute later and ended the game with six saves.
Aggressive play by Monarch created a final hope with just seven minutes remaining, when Mo Klenke hammered a free kick just inches over the crossbar. It proved as close as the Coyotes would come to an equalizer.
With two league games remaining against Legacy and Fossil Ridge next week, Fairview currently has a firm grasp on one of the Front Range League's four automatic berths into the Class 5A state tournament.
"We're feeling good about the last couple of weeks," said Jozwiak, "and we hope to wrap up the regular season in a strong way."
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Fairview 1, Monarch 0
At Monarch HS
Fairview (7-5-0, 5-3-0) 0 1 — 1
Monarch (6-1-4, 3-1-4) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Dessell (Vaughn), 58th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Richards (80-0-6); Monarch: Hathaway (80-1-3).