NIWOT — A few handshakes and a couple of high fives was the extent of Niwot's celebration on Tuesday.

What's more exciting might be getting everybody back healthy.

Jason Rodriguez scored twice while leading-scorer Manuel Tapia had another admirable performance in net filling in for the injured Mario Munoz as No. 3 Niwot beat 14-seed Battle Mountain 3-2 in the second round of the 4A postseason.

Niwot coach Stephen Dimit said he expects Tapia to return to his scoring ways with Munoz back in net after his weeks-long absence from a concussion when the Cougars face No. 6 Denver North on Saturday.

It will be the Cougars' first quarterfinals appearance since 2014.

"Right now, it looks like we'll be back to full-strength by then," Dimit said. "That leaves us pretty excited."

Without everybody in their regular role on a windy and cold afternoon at Niwot High School, the Cougars still found enough production to keep their season alive.

Simply, "the guys just battled," Dimit said.

After a scoreless first half, the Cougars (15-1-2) and Huskies (13-4) traded three goals in a span of six minutes in the second.

Rodriguez scored on an expert cross from Andres Montealegre in the 48th minute for Niwot before Jorge Membreno scored on a free kick in the 52nd minute for Battle Mountain.

Two minutes after that, the Cougars took the lead for good as Nicholas Grant connected with Rodriguez on a long free kick.


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With the Huskies' backline pushing forward to try to put the Cougars offside, Rodriquez checked his surroundings and made sure to stay in line as Grant's boot sailed 50 yards through the air.

It touched down in the box and the senior forward corralled it and squeezed it past the keeper for his 13th goal of the season.

"I knew they were going to step forward and try to get us on an offside trap," Rodriguez said. "I think everybody else was offside but I just read it."

Magnus Hansen added a goal in the 73rd minute to make it 3-1 for his fourth goal of the season. Battle Mountain answered in the 76th minute before the Cougars held on.

"Getting to this spot shows how hard we've been working and now we just need to keep working and keep going in the playoffs," Grant said. "It was a solid team effort today."

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Niwot 3, Battle Mountain 2

At Niwot High School

(14) Battle Mountain 0 2 — 2

(3) Niwot 0 3 — 3

Goals (assists) —Niwot: Jason Rodriguez (Andres Montealegre), 48th minute; Rodriguez (Nicholas Grant), 54th minute; Magnus Hansen (Montealegre), 73rd. Battle Mountain: Jorge Membreno (unassisted), 52nd; Juan Macias (Blake Moller), 76th.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Manuel Tapia (80-2-4); Battle Mountain: Alan Villegas (80-3-12).