BOULDER — There isn't a returning player on the Fairview boys soccer team who hasn't been bothered by the memory of last year's state semifinals, although many of them would like to forget.
Senior center back Wyatt Dessell is one of those players. He remembers it well.
In 2014, the Knights reached the semifinal round, only to lose to eventual champion Broomfield. On Wednesday, the Knights will get another shot at the 5A final four. This year, they intend to headline their own page of the Colorado soccer history books.
"We're coming off a great win over Boulder, which was the last game for me and the other seven seniors at Fairview," Dessell said. "Last year left us feeling unfulfilled. It would be the first state title that Fairview has won in 31 years here. It would be special as a captain and senior to lead the team to something like that. That's obviously how you want to end your senior year."
This time around, the Knights aren't the underdogs they were in 2014.
At Sports Authority Stadium in Parker on Wednesday, the top-seeded Knights (15-2-1) will face the 28th-seeded Mountain Vista Golden Eagles (11-6-1) at 5 p.m.. Knowing that despite their low seed, the Golden Eagles have already upset the Nos. 5, 12, and 4 seeds, Fairview head coach Jeff Frykholm isn't taking this round's opponent lightly. Add to that his respect for Golden Eagles head coach Theresa Echtermeyer, Frykholm expects Wednesday's game to be one of the Knights toughest challenges to date.
"They're good, they're very good," Frykholm said. "They're a little bit younger than a lot of teams in the state but they have a very good coach. I have not seen them play but from looking at their results, they seem to have really come together and they're riding a really hot train right now."
Still, no matter what opponent they face, last year's semifinals result lingers. Even though Fryholm was the Knights' coach at the time, he can appreciate the players' desire for retribution.
"There are a handful of guys that played in that match last year and remember the sting of it," Frykholm said. "I think this year's team is a little different. We've won 11 matches in a row now and I think we have a little more confidence. I'm speculating a bit, but I feel like the boys are a little more prepared and they have more of a, 'This is our year,' mindset. We're in a great spot right now, we've worked hard to get here and we're ready for it."