LAFAYETTE — Toby Rubenfeld is a strong young man.
He's made even stronger by his band of brothers on the Centaurus soccer team.
"This is my second family and these guys mean a lot to me," said Rubenfeld, who last year lost his father Fred to a heart attack.
On Wednesday night in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs against Thomas Jefferson, perhaps Fred had a little to do with the ball that came off his son's foot in the 60th minute.
With a strong northerly wind at his back, Toby Rubenfeld let go from distance and beat Spartans keeper Isaac Chihuahua for the game-winner in a 2-1 victory.
"For three years now, Toby has been our engine in the midfield and we have been talking to him about taking those chances more and more," Centaurus coach Lee Stanley said, "And the last few games, he has."
The victory for No. 7-seeded Centaurus (13-2-1) sets up and all BoCo second round on Halloween night against No. 10 Silver Creek (11-3-2) — the Raptors beat Holy Family 1-0 on Tuesday afternoon. The Warriors and Raptors tied 1-1 on Oct. 3 in their Northern League match.
Centaurus dictated the play from the get-go against a Spartans team that was coming out of a resurgent Denver Prep League with an 8-7 record.
The Warriors were going to have to get creative against TJ, who routinely packed nine players into the defensive third in front of Chihuahua.
They were able to break through in the 12th minute on a beautiful individual effort from sophomore Christian Nunez, who shook off three defenders and then beat the keeper low.
"I look at the bench when I'm looking to sub someone and I was talking to my assistant that with the options we have," Stanley said. "There are just so many."
Centaurus, which lost in a first round shootout to Skyview in the first round last season — and had discussions leading up to this match about it — watched its lead disappear in the 36th minute.
TJ's Jack Thibodeau ricochetted his direct free kick off Rodrigo Ruiz's cross bar and Spartans junior Rodrigo Veiga pounced on the rebound for the equalizer.
"Last year we wanted to go into Skyview and ruin their tournament," Stanley said, "And we know that anybody who is a lower seed than us is looking to do the same and we fed off of that emotional penalty kick loss a little bit to not be in that situation again."
Rubenfeld, who entered the game with four goals this season, took care of that midway though the second half.
"I'm not going to necessarily say that I meant to shoot it," Rubenfeld said, "But I definitely tried to put it in a dangerous area and it just went in, which is good."
The Warriors had multiple chance to extend their lead, notably from leading goal scorer, sophomore Fernando Ruiz, in the waning moments. But every time, Chihuahua — who finished with 12 saves — was up to the challenge.
TJ put one last scare in the Warriors with 2:30 to go, when Thibodeau sent a perfect ball through the box that multiple Spartans players had a chance to finish.
CENTAURUS 2, THOMAS JEFFERSON 1
At CentaurusThomas Jefferson (8-8) 1 0 — 1
Centaurus (13-2-1) 1 1 — 2
Goals (assists) — Centaurus: Christian Nunez (unassisted), 12th minute; Thomas Jefferson: Rodrigo Veiga (unassisted), 36th; Centaurus: Toby Rubenfeld (unassisted), 60th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Thomas Jefferson: Isaac Chihuahua (80-2-12); Centaurus: Rodrigo Ruiz (80-1-2).