“Evenly-matched” doesn’t do the Fairview-Arapahoe boys soccer series justice.
The two Class 5A powers had tied in their annual season-opening clash the last five years in a row headed into Thursday night’s meeting at FHS. And last year’s second-round playoff game? You guessed it. Tie, only to be decided on penalty kicks.
So there was really only one thought that could be running through FHS goalie Alan Schuerman’s head after Arapahoe cut the Knights’ lead to one in the second half.
“I don’t want to let themscore,” the sophomore said, noting that the streak of ties was at the front of his mind.
Schuerman did what he had to do, reeling in a pair of saves in the final 25 minutes to preserve a 2-1 triumph for the Knights.
In a game that both head coaches like because of the measuring stick it provides to start the season, victory tasted especially sweet.
“It’s a quality win in the first match,” Fairview coach Stan Jozwiak said. “We had enough returning players where we knew we were going to put a good side on the field. But I was really pleased with the focus and concentration we had in the first half.”
For a half Thursday, it looked like the Knights would dominate.
They owned possession for most of the 40 minutes, and carried a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Junior midfielder Jack Mayfield scored on a rebound in the 18th minute after Shane O’Neill had threaded a pass in transition to Ollie Gerland. Gerland’s shot ricocheted hard off the right post to Mayfield, who had a clear shot at the goal.
Junior Darius Matthies made it 2-0 in the 31st, cleaning up a loose ball in traffic in front of the net.
“It felt good to come out against a good team like Arapahoe, score a goal, get another one and keep the lead up for the whole game,” Mayfield said.
The Knights were able to do anything but cruise in the second half, however.
Arapahoe flipped the field from the start. And, after O’Neill got sent off for a yellow card in the 55th minute, Riley Dichiro served the ensuing free kick into the box where Scott Devoss headed the ball over Schuerman.
“I think once we settled down a little bit it became the game that we know our two teams play,” said Arapahoe coach Mark Hampshire, who admitted his squad might have let last year’s playoff PK loss to FHS creep into their minds a little too much entering Thursday.
With seven returning starters, one of Fairview’s few question marks entering the season was at goalie. But Schuerman did what he had to do in his debut, punching out a dangerous corner kick just before halftime and making a particularly key diving save just minutes before the Devoss goal.
“It was pretty nice,” Schuerman said of his first varsity win. “It’s still nerve-wracking.”
Fairview 2, Arapahoe 1
At Fairview HS
Arapahoe (0-1) 0 1 — 1
Fairview (1-0) 2 0 — 2
Goals (assists) — Fairview: Jack Mayfield (unassisted), 18th minute; Fairview: Darius Matthies (unassisted), 31st minute; Arapahoe: Scott Devoss (Riley Dichiro), 55th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Schuerman (80-1-5). Arapahoe: Horvath (80-2-2).