It wasn't easy but the Silver Creek girls soccer team accomplished its goal of repeating as 4A Northern League champions in 2016.
Of course, the Raptors didn't expect that it would be easy given the competitive level of play in the Northern. But given the injuries they battled to overcome early in the season, the Raptors' second straight conference title was an even more satisfying accomplishment.
With their regular season complete, the Raptors can now turn their attention to the playoffs.
"I'm thrilled about where we are right now," Raptors head coach Pat Monacelli said. "We had some pretty significant injuries we dealt with early in the season. We powered through those and never lost sight of our goal, which was to be a better team than we were last year. Coming down to the end of the season, we're right where we want to be and now we need to focus on the next step and that's the postseason."
After Silver Creek (10-4-1, 6-1 Northern), Niwot (10-3-0, 6-1-0 Northern) and Longmont (5-6-0, 5-2-0 Northern) have locked up the second and third automatic playoff berths out of the league. Despite an above-.500 overall record, Centaurus (6-5-1, 1-3-1 Northern) is currently sixth out of eight Northern League teams.
"The way I look at the 4A Northern is that there are several teams that can challenge for those three automatic playoff spots every year," Monacelli said. "For my money, this is a really strong conference. You can never count anyone out or assume anyone is in, and the three Longmont-area teams have all hit their stride right at the right time."
In the 5A Front Range League, another of the state's power conferences, Fairview (8-3-1, 7-1-1 Front Range) is currently in second place behind Rocky Mountain (11-1-1, 10-0), which remains undefeated in conference play. With two games remaining against Fossil Ridge (8-4, 6-4 Front Range), Legacy (5-5-2, 2-4-2 Front Range) and Rocky Mountain, the Knights are to be in good shape for a high playoff seed.
"We feel pretty good about being in second place in such a tough conference," Fairview head coach Dan Niedringhaus said. "That's nice. But no one on our team is really that happy with second place. We're really pushing it to win these last two games, and we need some help and to win out if we want to have a shot to win the league. We've put ourselves in a position where we have a shot to win this league for the first time in I think six years."
Trailing just behind Fairview, Monarch (11-2, 8-2 Front Range) and Broomfield (10-2-1, 7-2-1 Front Range) are also looking good with one week left in the regular season. Boulder (5-6-2, 5-5-1 Front Range) and Legacy are seventh and eighth, respectively, in the 13-team conference.
In the Tri-Valley League, Holy Family (5-4-1, 4-0 Tri-Valley) sits atop the conference standings with league games against Windsor (11-1, 5-0 Tri-Valley), Skyline (5-5-2, 3-2 Tri-Valley) and Berthoud (3-6-1, 0-4 Tri-Valley) remaining. Erie (10-3, 3-2 Tri-Valley) is third, Skyline is fourth, Mead (6-6, 2-2 Tri-Valley) is fifth and Frederick (3-6-1, 2-3 Tri-Valley) is sixth.
Jefferson Academy (11-3, 7-1 3A Region 6) and Peak to Peak (8-4-1, 4-3 3A Region 6) are third and fourth, respectively, in their conference. Dawson School (9-2-1, 2-1 2A Region 5) is second in its conference. Nederland (1-10, 0-2 2A Region 6) and Longmont Christian (2-6, 0-2 2A Region 6) are third and fourth, respectively.