BOULDER — Over the past two years, the Boulder boys soccer team has developed into one of the best clubs in the nation and is tough to beat anywhere it plays.
But when facing the Panthers at Recht Field in Boulder, opposing teams really just shouldn't get their hopes up.
Ranked 12th nationally by MaxPreps.com, the last time the Panthers lost at home was a 2-1 overtime defeat at the hands of cross-town rival Fairview on Oct. 1, 2015. In the second round of the 2016 Class 5A state tournament on Wednesday, the second-seeded Panthers (17-0) ran their home winning streak to 13 straight games on their home turf. The latest team to leave Recht Field following a defeat was No. 15 Regis Jesuit, by a score of 5-0.
"Our crowd is amazing," junior Nick McCabe said. "Our fans and the atmosphere just gives us so much confidence no matter where we are at in the game. In the second half, we got a boost from the fans and that made the difference."
The Raiders (10-6-1) entered Wednesday's second round allowing 1.2 goals per game and lived up to their defensive reputation, holding the Panthers, who average four goals per game, scoreless in the first half. Tied at the break, Boulder had two shots on goal to Regis Jesuit's one.
In the 30th minute, senior Trey Pace fired a low shot towards the goal. Rather than gambling that the ball would get through the defense, teammate Blaise Werner controlled the shot with his back to the goal at the top of the goal area and back-healed the ball into the net to put the Panthers up 1-0.
"I would describe that goal as playful," Werner said. "I love coming out here and playing with all these guys. We love playing for each other and work hard for it. We bring it in the second half because we have so much depth and energy."
Nine minutes later, junior Nick McCabe collected a loose ball in the left half of the penalty box and fired it back across into the right side netting to put the Panthers up 2-0. The clinching goal came in the 67th minute when senior Simon Julien broke away from the defense and scored to put Boulder up 3-0. Assisted by Omar Casruita, Pace added a fourth goal for good measure in the 72nd minute and Werner netted a fifth off a deflected save in the 75th.
The Panthers defeated No. 31 Rampart 8-0 in the first round at home last Thursday, to reach the second. They will have another chance to continue their home winning streak when they play the winner of Wednesday's first-round game between No. 7 Grandview (12-2-2) and No. 23 Bear Creek (11-5) in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Last season, Boulder's postseason run ended in the state quarterfinals with a loss to Fairview.
Boulder 5, Regis Jesuit 0
At Recht FieldRegis Jesuit 0 0 — 0 Boulder 0 5 — 5
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Blaise Werner (Trey Pace), 50th minute; Nick McCabe, 59th minute; Simon Julien, 67th minute; Pace (Omar Castruita), 72nd minute; Werner, 7th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Regis Jesuit: Zach Robertson (80-2-4); Boulder: Djibril Doumbia (80-0-3).