DENVER — The Jefferson Academy Jaguars understand that part of their formula for success is 33 percent luck.
It's something head coach Matt Cassell tells them after every match. On Saturday they got a little bit of that against a Colorado Academy team that owned a 1-0 result via a penalty kick against the Jags in the final week of the season. But it was the other 67 percent that proved to be the difference.
Mentally and skillfully, sixth-seeded Jefferson Academy was better than the third-seeded Mustangs and the entire equation for success added up to a 1-0 victory in its first ever Class 3A state quarterfinal game at CA's Slater Field.
"(Colorado Academy) are a good team and they put a ton of pressure on the ball and that is what created trouble for us," said Cassell, whose team will square off with KIPP Collegiate on Wednesday at All-City Stadium in Denver. The Tigers dispatched of DSST-Stapleton 7-1.
"We didn't create the quality chances we normally create, so it was just finding a couple and finishing one."
Jefferson Academy did a fantastic job of absorbing the Mustangs' early pressure and when they had the chance to counter through the midfield, they did so with precision.
As Cassell stated, the real quality chances were few and far between, but when presented, the Jags made the most of it.
On an aforementioned counter, sophomore defender Colton Ingalls played a perfect ball to speedy striker Lucas Almeida, who got the step on a trio of Mustangs' defenders.
Almeida then beat CA keeper Max Jack to the ball and got enough of a touch on it that despite Jack's safe, it was able — even from 15 yards out — to ricochet into the net. Almeida followed it home just for good measure.
"Just a little bit of luck again," Almeida said. "I knew it was going to go through because I saw the defender step too early, so I started sprinting.
"I just hit it and it was a lucky deflection, but I would have had it again if it hadn't gone in."
The goal came in the 36th minute and proved to be all that a stingy JA defense would need.
Colorado Academy, with numbers pushed forward, had just four shot on Eric Strauss' goal in the final 40 minutes and none of those were within 10 yards. The best chance for the Mustangs was with 12 minutes left, when Wyatt Westfall's bicycle kick from the top of the box sailed just wide of Strauss' far post.
"I'm still in complete awe," said Almeida about the trip to the state semifinals . "We are representing the whole school, the coach, all the players who came through the program and we are just going to do the best we can."
JEFFERSON ACADEMY 1, COLORADO ACADEMY 0
At CA's Slater FieldJefferson Academy (15-3) 1 0 — 1
Goal (assist) — Jefferson Academy: Lucas Almeida (Colton Ingalls), 36th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Jefferson Academy: Eric Strauss (80-0-6); Colorado Academy: Max Jack (80-1-2).