LONGMONT — Hunter Becvar had two ACL surgeries to repair his left knee as a freshman 2013 and didn't play soccer for Silver Creek until this season.
Though Becvar wasn't sure he would be able to, the senior center back returned to the pitch for the 2016 season and has been a primary reason for the Raptors' surprising start to the campaign. But even Becvar, who has had more than enough time to dream on a potentially successful senior season, didn't predict that the Raptors would have a 6-2 record through this fall's first eight games.
Still, that's where the Raptors stand with one week left in September.
"I haven't played since freshman year and it's great to see that everything has come together this season," Becvar said. "I didn't think we'd be quite this good, but we've really played great so far. We definitely need to step it up and keep getting better, but if we can do that I wouldn't be surprised if we make it to the Elite Eight."
Even a 1-0 loss to Greeley Central, who scored on a long goal in the 30th minute on Thursday afternoon, didn't shake the Raptors' optimism. The Raptors will have to play their way back into contention in the 4A Northern League after losing Thursday's conference opener.
But first-year head coach Rob Johnson, who came to the Raptors from rival Niwot this offseason, left the field in confident fashion knowing that his team's only two losses have come against a conference contender and Mullen, the No. 2-ranked team in the latest CHSAANow.com poll.
"The hard part early on was getting this team to play with some confidence," Johnson said. "But we've worked hard. The change from last year to this year was realizing that they're a good team. Even at 6-1, we went down in the first half and the other team only had one good look, they just made it count. That's unlucky but after that, I think we worked hard but we could have been smarter and a little bit more patient."
Nine different players have scored a goal for the Raptors, who went 7-9 last season, in their first eight games. Junior Conner Peskin and senior Miguel Toledo lead the club with four apiece. The Raptors have outscored their first eight opponents 22-8.
"We're not relying on one person to do everything," Johnson said. "It was a nice surprise that Hunter came back out and he's been huge as a center back and one of the captains. This team wants to have success and they believe in each other."
In a conference season that figures to be a more open competition than in past years, the Raptors will look to get back to .500 on Tuesday against Longmont (3-4-1) on the other side of town.