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Throughout history, the No. 10 has been reserved for the best players on the pitch.

From Pele and Maradona to now Messi and Rooney, it's a number that signifies greatness and has seeped down to the high school level.

On Thursday night at Fairview's turf field in front of a packed house that was estimated to be 3,000 strong, both Boulder's No. 10 Omar Castruita and Fairview's Ryan Houseman brought their best in a well-played cross-town rivalry between two top-10 teams.

Top-ranked Boulder stayed perfect, posting a 3-1 win over the seventh-ranked Knights.

"We knew it was just another game, but we still had to give it our all," said Castruita, Boulder's dynamic sophomore midfielder. "This is what we work for and like Blaise (Werner) said before, it's just another day at the office."

Boulder High’s Abraham Lopez, right, battles Fairview’s Evan Mason for the ball on Thursday.
Boulder High's Abraham Lopez, right, battles Fairview's Evan Mason for the ball on Thursday. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

Boulder improved to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the Front Range League, and along with Broomfield — a 3-0 victory over Monarch on Thursday — are the only unbeatens in the FRL. Fairview dropped to 7-3 overall and 5-2 inside the league.

There was a frenetic pace to the match early on, spurred on by the raucous student sections on the west side of the field.

Both sides had their chances, but it wasn't until the 23rd minute that Boulder, behind a big time left-footed shot from Abraham Lopez, finally solved Fairview keeper Ben Nielson.

Lopez gathered in a failed clearing attempt and made one quick touch to his left to open enough space to get a shot off though traffic that Nielson couldn't react to in time.


"It's not just another game and the boys know that," said Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher, who slightly contradicted Castruita. "I was particularly proud that they got a chance to play and showcase who they are in front of their piers in the community."

It looked like it might go to the half 1-0, but the Panthers got what amounted to the game-winner with just three minutes to play before the break. From deep in the corner, Trey Pace's intended cross to Castruita on the far post somehow snuck pact Nielson into the back of the net; prompting a puzzled celebration from Pace.

Houseman cut the Boulder lead in half midway through the second half on a brilliant individual effort. The Knights midfielder dissected the Panthers stern defense, beat two double teams and beat Djibril Doumbia — who was brilliant in making nine saves — with a well-placed shot to the far post.

"I thought we had some momentum there and we had a few other chances right after that just didn't go on the right side of the post," said Houseman, who moments later fired an equalizing attempt just high. "The next goal certainly hurt us, but we played a great team tonight, so all the credit to them."

It would be all the Panthers defense, led by junior Quinn Frankovsky on this night, would surrender the rest of the way.

Moments after Fairview's second half keeper Noah Williams made a save on a penalty kick, the Panthers would add the final nail. Tavio Castruita finished a well-timed cross from Eric Ramirez that sealed the deal.

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At Fairview

Boulder (10-0, 7-0) 2 1 — 3 
Fairview (7-3, 5-2) 0 1 — 1

Goals (assists) — Boulder: Abraham Lopez (unassisted), 23rd; Trey Pace (unassisted), 37th; Fairview: Ryan Houseman (unassisted), 55th; Boulder: Octavio Castruita (Eric Ramirez), 59th.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Djibril Doumbia (80-1-9); Fairview: Ben Nielson (40-2-3), Noah Williams (40-1-4).