LONGMONT — If ever there was a tactician in the local coaching ranks, it would be Silver Creek's Rob Johnson.
He will be put to the ultimate test on Saturday in Aurora at Legacy Stadium when his fifth-seeded Raptors, in the semifinals for the first time since their title run in 2008, take on top-seeded Windsor in the Class 4A semifinals.
The two teams met back on March 20, a match that ended in a 2-2 draw at Silver Creek and is the lone blemish on the Wizards otherwise sparkling 17-0-1 record. Same thing for the Raptors, who come in 16-0-2 — their other tie was to Northern League co-champion Niwot.
"It's going to be a great game and we know what they can do. They were at our quarterfinal game watching and I've seen enough video on them to know what they want to do," said Johnson, whose team beat Littleton on Wednesday 3-2 in overtime to move on. "It'll definitely be a battle, they are very good."
Windsor is coming off a stressful quarterfinal of it own against Standley Lake, beating the Gators 1-0 in double overtime.
The Wizards, who are attempting to become the first ever Tri-Valley League team to play for a girls soccer title, have been nothing short of impressive on the offensive third of the field. Chaynee Kingsbury (headed to CU) and Abby Gearhart have combine for 63 of the Wizards 111 goals this season and will obviously draw much of the attention of the Silver Creek backline.
"In my opinion, there are two philosophies: You play the way you play or you adjust, and I'm all about adjusting," Johnson said. "But I think back, and I know Alexa (Karsel) had two or three missed chances in that game and we got behind them and had several opportunities to score.
"We will play them straight up and go at them just like they are going to go at us and hopefully that works out for us."
The Raptors balanced scoring attack is led by Karsel and Colleen Tyrrell, who have each had big goals in the last two rounds against Ponderosa and Littleton, respectively. But the key will be defensively and in front of goalie Kaeyla Noble, staying organized and limiting the number of quality looks the Wizards get.
"This is a great group and I've coached a lot of great kids, but they just keep finding ways to win," said Johnson, who would face either Glenwood Springs or Valor Christian in Wednesday's final at Dick's Sporting Goods Park with a victory. "They've stepped up and hopefully they can do it again on Saturday."
In Class 5A, Broomfield is back in a familiar spot after Wednesday's thrilling 2-1 overtime victory against Columbine.
The Eagles, who have persevered despite a number of injuries to key players, are flying high after staring defeat squarely in the face against the Rebels, getting the equalizing goal in the 78th minute from Lindsay Hudson before Hailey Stodden won it in overtime.
Second-seeded Broomfield (17-0-1) will draw No. 3 Rock Canyon (16-2) in Parker at Echo Park Stadium, with top-seeded Grandview and No. 5 Mountain Vista squaring off in the other semifinal.
In Class 3A, the draw could not have worked out any better for the top-seeded Jefferson Academy Jaguars. Coach Denise Sutton's team has outscored Peak to Peak and Colorado Springs Christian 11-1 in its two matches and will draw No. 13 Aspen in the semis at All-City Stadium in Denver.
That also means the Jags have avoided a rematch with Metro League foes Colorado Academy and Kent Denver — the only two team to beat them this year. The No. 2 Mustangs and No. 3 Sun Devils will meet in the first semifinal at All-City.
Dawson has already punched its ticket to the Class 2A title match on Tuesday — it's fourth straight — after it beat Crested Butte on Wednesday night in their semifinal. The will try to avenge last years 4-3 loss to Denver Christian, a team they beat in April 4-1.
STATE SOCCER PLAYOFFS
Saturday's Semifinals at Echo Park Stadium (Parker)
(5) Mountain Vista (14-3-1) vs. (1) Grandview (15-0-3), 11 a.m.
(3) Rock Canyon (16-2) vs. (2) Broomfield (17-0-1), 1:30 p.m.
Saturday's Semifinals at Legacy Stadium (Aurora)
(5) Silver Creek (16-0-2) vs. (1) Windsor (17-0-1), 11 a.m.
(6) Glenwood Springs (16-2) vs. (2) Valor Christian (11-3-3), 1:30 p.m.
Saturday's Semifinals at All-City Stadium (Denver)
(13) Aspen (14-3) vs. (1) Jefferson Academy (14-2-1), 1:30 p.m.
(3) Kent Denver (15-1-1) vs. (2) Colorado Academy (14-2-1), 11 a.m.
Tuesday's Championship at Dick's Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City)
(2) Denver Christian (12-5) vs. (1) Dawson (15-2), 5 p.m.