BOULDER — Hardy Kalisher distinctly remembers a quick conversation between himself and Smoky Hill coach Kersten Mullan after the Boulder soccer team lost to the Buffaloes to open the 2014 season.
"I know we told each other at the end, 'We'll see you again deep in the playoffs,'" Kalisher said on Saturday evening.
Both teams held up their end of the bargain. For the fourth time in the past five seasons, the Panthers earned a place in the Class 5A semifinals with a convincing 3-0 win against Chatfield, setting up a rematch with Smoky Hill on Wednesday at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.
That loss was the only one Boulder (14-1-3) suffered all season, and the No. 3-seeded Panthers became the third Front Range League team — and third Boulder Valley school — to make the final four after Broomfield and Fairview also hammered out victories.
"I'm proud of the Front Range League," Kalisher added.
Facing the No. 22 Chargers at home was not a breeze, but the Panthers defense certainly played their roles to perfection for the second consecutive game.
After Quinn Liebmann's free kick just 7 minutes in gave BHS a 1-0 lead, Boulder was able to still continue to play aggressively with the four-man back line that included Mitchell Davis, Mitchell Graesser, Skye Guegan and Aidan Longhurst moving in unison to clamp down on the Chargers' attack.
Leo Huettel, after needing to only make one save against Poudre in the second round, stopped the only two shots that Chatfield could muster on frame. The Chargers only managed seven shots that even sniffed the goal area.
"Our defense holds together because we play not just for ourselves but for the guy next to you," said Davis, a senior. "We cover each other well. And it's really the whole team putting work from the top of the field to the goal.
"I think Chatfield had a lot of pace, and from their seniors, they're putting all they could into their game. We talked about what they were doing at half, and we shut them down in the second half."
Liebmann's goal came from about 35 yards out, and the Panthers followed it up 20 minutes later with a goal in the flow of play — a beautiful cross from Paolo Wilczak from deep in the top corner that found Jamie Astorga in the box.
Boulder tallied 17 shots in all, forcing Michael Karns to make five saves. Neither Karns nor the Chatfield defense could halt some good opportunities late that resulted in a third goal, when in the 78th minute Sam Kirk sent a lengthy diagonal pass to Jack Dooley for the final tally. Matt Radzihovsky also had numerous chances, as did Kirk.
Boulder continues to use their depth, which the Panthers hope results in another full week of work.
"Tonight, we had guys playing in this game who hadn't played in two or three games, and they were terrific," Kalisher said. "It's nice to be able to continue to put different players in the game and keep up the level of play.
"We've learned a really strong, hard-working, organized defense can neutralize a high-power offense like Chatfield."
Follow Adam on Twitter: twitter.com/adamdunivan24
BOULDER 3, CHATFIELD 0
At Recht Field
Chatfield (11-5-2) 0 0 — 0
Boulder (14-1-3) 2 1 — 3
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Quinn Liebmann (unassisted), 7th minute; Boulder: Jamie Astorga (Paolo Wilczak assist), 27th minute; Boulder: Jack Dooley (Sam Kirk), 78th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Chatfield: Michael Karns (80-3-5); Boulder: Leo Huettel (80-0-2).