LAFAYETTE — After not making the playoffs in 2015 and bowing out in the first round last season, it has been clear all season long that the Centaurus boys soccer team was hungry for a deep playoff run in 2017.
Well, now it's November and the Warriors are still alive and well in the Class 4A state tournament. Making their first quarterfinals appearance since 2013 at home on Saturday, they took their run one step further with a 4-1 win over Littleton that advanced them into the state semifinals.
"We came out hard, we came out positive and we tried our best," Christian Nunez said. "We wanted to go farther than last year and we've been giving it 100 percent."
It wasn't hard for the seventh-seeded Warriors (15-2-1) to stay positive given how well Wednesday's game against the No. 15-ranked Lions (15-2-1) started out.
Nunez put the Warriors on the board first with a straight on shot from just outside the 18-yard box in the eighth minute. Just a while later in the 21st minute, Raudel Manjarrez put the Warriors up 2-0 with a goal of his own from just outside the box near the right corner. With just 26 seconds left in the first half, Jesus Garcia scored on a free kick to give the Warriors a 3-0 halftime lead.
"At that point, we felt like we had it but we had to keep playing hard in case something else happened," Nunez said. "But that was a good feeling."
The Lions got once score back when Zach Maguire cleaned up a deflected free kick in the 49th minute but Garcia's second goal of the game in the 67th minute iced the victory for the Warriors at the end of a windy game that started out with 20 mile-per-hour gusts.
Now that they're in the semifinals, the Warriors are in store for a tough game against conference rival and No. 3 overall seed Niwot. When the Warriors face Niwot (15-1-2) in the semifinals on Wednesday, it will be a rematch of a regular-season Northern League match between the two teams that ended with Centaurus winning, 2-1, in double overtime.
"They were one of the best teams we played all season, hands down," Centaurus head coach Lee Stanley said. "I think we gave them their only loss and that gave us the league, from them essentially. They were already going to be a tough opponent, but now they have that little chip on their shoulder."
Next Wednesday's game will be played at Legacy Stadium in Aurora and will begin at 7 p.m.
Centaurus 4, Littleton 1
At Centaurus H.S.Littleton 0 1 — 1
Centaurus 3 1 — 4
Goals (assists) —Centaurus: Christian Nunez, 8th minute; Raudel Manjarrez, 21st; Jesus Garcia, 40th; Jesus Garcia, 67th; Littleton: Zach Maguire, 49th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Centaurus: Rodrigo Ruiz (80-1-4); Littleton: Michael Melton (80-4-5).