WESTMINSTER - So now they know what it feels like. The Fairview Knights were tested. And they passed.
The Knights got all they wanted on a windy, chilly Tuesday afternoon at Adams 12 North Stadium from host Mountain Range. They walked away with a 3-2 victory in the Class 5A Front Range League, a tight one for a big-school team that many agree is the group to beat locally and is ranked No. 5 nationally by the likes of USA Today.
An exhausted Ryan Houseman was proof - he set up the Knights' first goal and scored the next two, the last of which came in the 77th minute for the game-winner. Yes, he said, he envisioned himself sleeping very well after the match. He needed it.
"Yeah, that team made it tough on us," Houseman, huffed, puffed and said of the Mustangs, who dipped to 2-3 overall, 0-2 in league. "They had guys up top and watched the counterattacks and got a couple of goals. They sure made us work. I'm wiped out."
Said coach Jeff Frykholm: "That's the Front Range League. You run into these types of games all of the time. Lots of credit to Mountain Range. We couldn't figure out how to put the game away."
Ultimately, Houseman did, firing one in from about 30 yards in the center of the pitch that was slightly deflected and changed speeds. It seemed to fool Mountain Range keeper Michael Daly, a sophomore who was strong, particularly late. Once Mountain Range tied it at 2-2 on a goal by Robbie LaGuardia - he collided with a Fairview defender and keeper Ben Nielson, and it deflected in - the Knights reeled off eight significant scoring opportunities over the next four minutes. And couldn't retake the lead.
"We had a lot of chances," Frykholm said of his team, now 4-0, 2-0. "That river has to make it to the ocean at some point."
Fairview, which had entered with a 12-1 aggregate scoring edge over its first three matches and enjoyed back-to-back shutouts, twice led entering the stretch. Houseman's corner offering was cleaned up on a rebound out front by Stephen Griffith in the 19th minute that held up through the first half. The Mustangs got their first equalizer in the 46th minute by Slayter Andolsek, 7 minutes before Houseman's first score, an easy finish on the doorstep off a feed from the right side by Jason Fontillas.
Frykholm, who called it "a great lesson for us moving forward on how to crack a defense like that," also cited the play of Stone Streeter as vital.
As for rankings, the Knights insist they aren't getting that excited. Opinions don't win matches.
Houseman said "our team tries not to look at that stuff."
Frykholm was even more blunt: "We are not even remotely close to being fifth in the country. Add a zero to the end of that and maybe we can talk about that.
"Erase them," the coach added concerning thoughts of rankings by his players. "They're gone.
"Even rankings in the state ... we try to not even look at them."
Fairview 3, Mountain Range 2
At Adams 12 North StadiumFairview 1 2 — 3
Mountain Range 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Stephene Griffith, 19th minute; Mountain Range: Slater Andolsek, 46th minute; Fairview: Ryan Houseman, 53rd minute; Mountain Range: Robbie LaGuardia, 67th minute; Fairview: Houseman, 77th minute.