BOULDER —Fairview coach Jeff Frykholm believes he has four different goalies on his roster that could start for most Class 5A soccer programs across the state.
Fortunate, sure. A bit of a double-edged sword, too.
With four competitive keepers on hand, Frykholm marveled how the depth has opened the door to a more competitive training environment at Fairview. Pointing to the simultaneous six-on-six scrimmages his team can run at practice and its ability to do drills on four different nets at once, Frykholm said his netminders have given the rest of the team more real-game opportunities and productive work on the net.
Now, if only he could reward them all come gameday.
"It's a difficult situation," Frykholm said.
Not to mention a complex one.
All four keepers — Carter Melton, Noah Williams, Lucas Hempon and Nick Sims — got an opportunity in net earlier in the season.
Through the first two games, Melton and Williams shared time evenly in a pair of shutouts against Holy Family and Mountain Vista. And over the next three games, all four got playing time.
To shuffle matters some more, Williams then tore a ligament in his thumb making a save in practice three weeks ago, and is now solely playing at forward while in his cast.
With him out of net, Melton and Hempon shared time in a win over Fossil Ridge on Sept. 12, but since then Melton has logged all but 10 minutes (which went to Sims) in the last four games.
At this point, Melton is the No. 1 keeper.
"It's so difficult and I talk about it probably once or twice a week just how to keep everyone engaged, positive and feeling like they're part of the team," Frykholm said. "But to their credit, those four guys in particular are just great human beings. They understand the situation, and they train hard, they compete hard with each other in practice. And if Carter makes a save tonight those other goalkeepers are the first one off the bench to be supportive of him.
"I'm just super grateful the guys are so positive with each other. And I think that as much as everybody wants to get on the field they understand the unique situation that they're a part, of something special. And they may need to be called upon at some point."
The environment is certainly upbeat right now for the Knights (9-0), who remain the only unblemished team in 5A following their 2-1 double-overtime win over nationally-ranked Boulder on Friday night.
In it, Myles Ellis scored the game-winning goal and celebrated by going head-first over a chain-link fence and into the student section.
Before that, though, Melton was again grounded in net.
The junior keeper gave up his first goal of the year in his 441st minute in net by way of a no-doubt blast from inside the box from BoCoPreps.com Player of the Year Omar Castruita. But that's all.
Melton was spectacular down the stretch and finished with four saves. He has now allowed just one goal in 506 minutes this season.
He credited the other three keepers for his early success.
"It's nice to have four of us," Melton said. "We compete every day in practice. I have to go against three great goalkeepers every single day. It just keeps me sharp and I think it keeps them sharp, too."
The other three, meanwhile, plan to keep pushing him to his limit.
"It's totally a family dynamic with us," Williams said. "For me, I know I'm not going to be back before the playoffs. And really at this point, if he's playing well it's his season. I'm not going to step in during the playoffs if he's playing well."
Fairview's collective group of netminders have given up three goals in nine games this season, touting a 5A-best .333 goals per game average.
Best of all, the four of them have instilled confidence in the rest of their teammates. The Knights know turning a special start into a memorable finish will take all hands on deck.
"It's awesome having them," senior forward Cooper Harmon said. "In practice you put these great shots on them and they're making spectacular saves, making you do your best.
"And when you go against other keepers in the league, because I feel like our keepers are the top in the league, it makes it easier in game times knowing you have four great keepers on your team and knowing you have security in the back."
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew