PARKER — Fairview found out the hard way on Thursday that sometimes even the best squad is no match for the hottest team.
In the Class 5A state semifinals at Sports Authority Stadium, the top-seeded Fairview Knights fell 1-0 to 28th-seeded Mountain Vista, halting the Knights' playoff run for the second consecutive season.
Despite controlling the pace of play throughout the game, Fairview became the latest and, on paper, greatest victim in the Golden Eagles' improbable run to the state title game.
"It's a credit to them," Knights head coach Jeff Frykholm said. "They played the game plan really well. They were patient and they got their one chance on the counterattack and we paid for it. They're super scrappy, well organized and well coached. We knew that but it's still a stunner because it felt inevitable that we were going to get a goal at some point.
"But my guys were class acts all year long and this is how the game works. Sometimes it ends in pain."
The Knights (15-3-1) definitively won the ball-control battle, particularly in the second half. They also out-shot the Golden Eagles (12-6-1) 12 to five, putting six of those shots on goal. But quality play from the Golden Eagles back line and six saves from junior goalkeeper Chris Reicher thwarted each of the Knights' quality chances.
With the game tied and looking destined for overtime, Golden Eagles forward Brent Lackey broke free on a long pass in the 76th minute. Lackey and the ball bounced between several Knights defenders just inside the 18-yard box before he controlled it wide to the right of the cage and shot it back across the net to score the game-winning goal.
"We talked all week about defending their counterattack and sure enough, that's how they got one on us," Frykholm said. "We had tons of chances but the bottom line is that we couldn't get a goal across. We thought if we could get that first one, the gates might open up a bit. The bottom line is that we didn't finish our chances."
Before Thursday's win, the Golden Eagles had defeated fifth-seeded Monarch, 12th-seeded Aurora Central and fourth-seeded Arapahoe already in the postseason. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles will face defending state champion Broomfield in the 5A title game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
"They pressured us the whole game and our back line played great," Golden Eagles head coach Theresa Echtermeyer said. "Fairview is a quality team and they were the one seed for a reason."
Thursday's loss was just the sixth time in two years that Fairview failed to score a goal.
Mountain Vista 1, Fairview 0
At Sports Authority Stadium in ParkerMountain Vista (12-6-1) 0 1 — 1
Fairview (15-3-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Mountain Vista: Brent Lackey (Nolan Gao), 76th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Mountain Vista: Chris Reicher (80-0-6); Fairview: Dan Richards (80-1-2).