BOULDER — Familiar foes, cross-town rivals and state championship contenders, Boulder and Fairview brought more than their usual competitive tension to the soccer field at Fairview High School on Saturday night.
Two of the state's most dominant teams all season long, Fairview and Boulder played the kind of state quarterfinals matchup that felt likely to go in favor of whichever team could find a way to push a goal across first. It was Knights senior Andre Miller who finally cracked the code and gave his Knights the edge they needed to win 2-0.
"In these games one goal can make the difference so both teams are trying to get that first one," Miller said. "It was a great feeling when we got that first one. Even after we scored, we weren't quite comfortable because they're a great team."
Fairview won the cross-town rivals' regular-season meeting on Oct. 1, defeating Boulder 2-1 in overtime. Last season, Fairview reached the state semifinals before losing to Broomfield, while the Boulder Panthers finished state runners-up to that same Broomfield club.
On Saturday, ninth-seeded Boulder pressured the top-seeded Fairview back line early in the game, while Fairview created its attack by patiently building from the back. While both teams had their chances in the first half, Boulder put three shots on goal to Fairview's one.
The score was knotted 0-0 at halftime.
Miller, who leads the Knights in scoring, broke the ice in the 46th minute. Weaving his way through the Boulder defense, Miller finally found an angle just inside the 18-yard box and fired the ball past Panthers goalkeeper Miguel Alaniz.
"I'm just glad it's over," Fairview head coach Jeff Frykholm said. "We knew whoever was down in this one was going to fight to the end. They just have such talented players and I'm honestly grateful that we were on top at the end because that is one great team."
Making a leaping catch on a long ball in the 69th minute, Alaniz broke his collarbone and was forced to exit the game. Panthers freshman goalkeeper Dgibril Doumbia fended of repeated Fairview counterattack while his teammates pushed extra numbers forward in search of an equalizer. Eventually, Fairview's Alex Weseman scored to give the Knights an insurmountable lead with a 79th-minute goal.
"What a great game," Boulder head coach Hardy Kalisher said. "We had a game plan going in and the boys executed really well. I know we had them on their heals but the final piece of getting the goals didn't happen. Sometimes it hard to beat a great team like that but that was our best game of the season with the way we played.
"We went down giving them our best effort tonight. Our guys had a tremendous season and our seniors have had an incredible four-year run. That was as good a high school game as you'll ever see so good luck to Fairview."
Fairview will face surprise 28th seed Mountain Vista, which has already upset two top-five seeds, in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Fairview 2, Boulder 0
At Fairview H.S.Boulder 0 0 — 0
Fairview 0 2 — 2
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Andre Miller, 46th minute; Alex Weseman, 79th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Miguel Alaniz (70-1-2), Dgibril Doumbia (10-1-1); Fairview: Dan Richards (80-0-8).