Who's up for a soccer crawl?
It may take some careful planning, a few bucks and maybe an outside source of energy, but the play of the local Class 5A Front Range League teams this season has made for a home-friendly opening round of the postseason — and all of it is happening on an exciting Thursday night this week.
Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview and Legacy all earned top-16 seeds in the 32-team state tournament and will be hosting games while a fifth local team, Monarch, won't be too far away, either, for the first round. Throw in Fort Collins and Fossil Ridge as FRL teams that will host, and there's no doubt the league's powerful tradition shown through once again in 2017.
Boulder edged Fort Collins for the league championship via a tie-breaker, and the Panthers earned the No. 4 seed as a result of their 13-1-1 mark. Last year's state champs will welcome Ralston Valley (8-7) to Recht Field to begin their quest for another appearance in the title game.
In the same quadrant of the bracket is No. 13 Fairvew, which finished 10-5 overall and had four losses by a single goal. The Knights will try and shake off a loss against Boulder in the regular season finale, hosting 10-4-1 Lakewood at Fairview.
A victory for both the Panthers and Knights would mean a second round clash, and a third meeting overall this season, on November 1. The quadrant also features Grandview, Regis Jesuit and Pine Creek.
Neighbors Broomfield (No. 7 seed) and Legacy (a 15 seed) have the potential to meet in the quarterfinals, as well.
The Eagles will have the challenge of upending No. 26 Rock Canyon (7-5-3) before a possible contest against either Cherry Creek or Liberty. The Lightning, which owns a 2-0-1 mark against Fairview, Boulder and Broomfield, will host Aurora Central (10-5) at North Stadium.
A stout Monarch squad took a dip in the RPI with back-to-back losses at the end of the regular season, but the Coyotes (8-6-1) allowed only 11 goals to teams not named Boulder. Their defense will be put to the test at Littleton Public Schools Stadium against No. 9 Arapahoe.
At least one local team has represented the FRL in the championship game every year since 2013. Boulder has won twice since 2012 and Broomfield also has claimed two championships in that time. Fairview, Legacy and Monarch each are seeking their first soccer title.
Class 5A state soccer tournament
First Round Thursday
in bracket order
(32) Arvada West at (1) Denver East
(17) Legend at (16) Fossil Ridge
(25) Greeley West at (8) Grand Junction
(24) Monarch at (9) Arapahoe, Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 4:30 p.m.
(28) Fruita Monument at (5) Grandview
(21) Pine Creek at (12) Regis Jesuit
(29) Ralston Valley at (4) Boulder, 7 p.m.
(20) Lakewood at (13) Fairview, 6:30 p.m.
(30) Gateway at (3) Fort Collins
(19) Castle View at (14) Rampart
(27) Rocky Mountain at (6) Hinkley
(22) Cherokee Trail at (11) Rangeview
(26) Rock Canyon at (7) Broomfield, 6 p.m.
(23) Liberty at (10) Cherry Creek
(31) Eaglecrest at (2) Far Northeast Warriors
(18) Aurora Central at (15) Legacy, North Stadium, 6 p.m.
Second round at higher seed on November 1
Quarterfinals at higher seed on November 4