Respect the process, and more importantly, respect your opponent.
That is Boulder soccer coach Hardy Kalisher's message during the regular season, and it most certainly intensifies when the Panthers are in playoff mode.
Being the second seed in the Class 5A playoffs to Denver East is not being viewed as fuel to any fire for Boulder — a team ranked No. 1 in polls for most of the season. For the Panthers, it's going out and proving that they have yet to even peak.
Which is scary, considering on Thursday night in the first round against Rampart the Panthers rolled to an 8-1 win, garnering four goals in the first half and putting together an even better second stanza to beat the Rams and move to 16-0.
"It just has a lot to do with our mentality going into every game. We try and give every opponent we face the respect they really deserve and we want to show up and give our best every game," said senior Blaise Werner, who scored the first goal of the night and then played set-up man for Nick McCabe's second-half hat trick. "No matter what seed, who we're playing, we're playing with a lot of love on our home field and there's nothing like it."
"I think what this team believes in is that they have to go out and prove themselves every single half, and honestly there has been no talk of our seed. The talk is can we get better," said Kalisher, whose team will play No. 15 seed Regis Jesuit Wednesday. "I thought tonight, we did particularly well on the offensive side to create some beautiful goals, but the challenge at halftime was to reflect on being our best from end to end. I think our second half was better in that respect."
The Rams (5-9-2) popped up from Colorado Springs as a team that had played a difficult schedule, which the seeding committee respected in giving them a spot in the field despite a No. 35-rated RPI.
But it was clear early in Thursday's contest that the Panthers were going to find the net early and often. After shots from Quinn Frankovsky and Trey Pace narrowly missed their intended destination in the first 5 minutes, Boulder scored in the 9th when Omar Castruita stunned Rampart keeper Ryan Williams with a shot he couldn't fully corral, giving Werner a chance to settle and clean it up to make it 1-0.
Between the 19th and 25th minutes, it was Abe Lopez's pitch — the senior set Simon Julien up on two different occasions before firing a 30-yard laser past Williams to make it 4-0 — and from there it was a show of depth for BHS.
McCabe scored three times in a span of about 4 minutes in the second half, and the Rams didn't get a single shot on frame in the final 40.
"Abe is a firey player, and he loves playing the game. It's just another day at the office in some ways, but Abe motivates a lot of guys and we feed off that," Werner said. "One guy works that much harder, and the guy next him is going to do the same thing."
Mitch Graesser scored the other goal for Boulder, who have made at least the quarterfinals every year since 2012.
"We were able to go deep through the whole team and give all of them some great opportunities," Kalisher said. "Guys like Luke (Regnier) and Jackson (Curry), Fabian (Valencia), they are patient and then get in and the quality is still there."
Boulder 8, Rampart 1
At Recht FieldRampart (5-9-2) 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Blaise Werner (Omar Castruita assist), 9th minute; Boulder: Simon Julien (Abe Lopez), 19th; Boulder: Simon Julien (Abe Lopez), 21st; Boulder: Lopez (O. Castruita), 25th; Rampart: Simagegn Collins (unassisted), 39th; Boulder: Mitch Graesser (unassisted), 53rd; Boulder: Nick McCabe (Werner), 55th; Boulder: McCabe (Werner), 60th; Boulder: McCabe (Werner), 62nd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Boulder: Djibril Doumbia (80-1-3).