NIWOT — Niwot coach Stephen Dimit, like most coaches when the season starts, was curious how quickly his young — yet talented — team would gel.
To say it has happened rather quickly would be a mild understatement.
On Tuesday afternoon the Cougars improved their record to 4-1 with an impressive 4-1 victory over previously unbeaten Peak to Peak.
"We had a tough game on Saturday (a 1-0 loss to Lewis-Palmer) where I thought we played really well and we made just one mistake," said Dimit, whose team will be back in action on Saturday against Green Mountain.
"But I am really proud of what these guys are doing defensively and I think that showed again here. The way they are locking it down right now, I couldn't be any prouder."
Against Class 3A's No. 2 ranked Pumas (3-1-1), Niwot's defense was never really challenged in the early going but were constantly aware of the potential the Peak to Peak midfield — notably Brendan Lefkowicz — had to spring its forwards.
And slightly against the run of play, the Cougars were able to strike first. A gorgeous through-ball from Jesus Gonzales sprang Jason Rodriguez, who got behind two Pumas defenders and beat goalie Nate Fangman low to his far post with a big left foot.
That goal came in the 7th minute and the match stayed that way until the hulking presence of Abel Marrufo made it a 2-0 game in the 28th minute.
"He's a beast," Dimit said. "It is deceptive and you would think he'd be a football player or something, but he a really refined soccer player."
The physical style of the Cougars is something that Peak to Peak coach Peter Chandler and his boys haven't seen too much of early on this season, but welcomed the challenge of it, knowing it will prepare them for the Metro League schedule.
"Both sides were playing a good aggressive game and that's what we need to be able to do to play the game at the top level," said Chandler, whose team starts league play on Thursday against newcomer Prospect Ridge. "Kids need to learn how to shield those kind of freight trains ... because you never know when you are going to come up against it."
Peak to Peak, with numbers pushed forward, cut the lead in half with 12 minutes to play. Adam Spiers was johnny-on-the-spot in a crowded box and finished past Mario Munoz.
But it was short-lived and Niwot took advantage of a pressing Peak to Peak side and scored twice in the final four minutes. Brian Oates and Andres Montealegre were both on the receiving end of Rodriguez crosses and finished with ease.
"I though we could have had way more than we actually finished, but that is a good result," Rodriguez said. "We were able to actually shoot and that's what we've been working on our shooting and today we finished."
NIWOT 4, PEAK TO PEAK 1
At NiwotPeak to Peak (3-1-1) 0 1 — 1
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Jason Rodriguez (Jesus Gonzales), 7th minute; Abel Marrufo (unassisted), 28th; Peak to Peak: Adam Spiers (unassisted), 68th; Niwot: Brian Oates (Ja. Rodriguez), 77th; Andres Montealegre (Ja. Rodriguez), 78th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Peak to Peak: Nate Fangman (80-5-6); Niwot: Mario Munoz (80-1-5).