Cliff Grassmick/Camera
Fairview vs Fossil Ridge soccer130.JPG Matt Ginley-Hidinger, left of Fairview, hits the ball away from Adam Blair of Fossil Ridge. For more photos of the game, go to Cliff Grassmick / October 13, 2011

Just after the top two teams in the Front Range League kicked off on Thursday to begin a pivotal late-season contest which would all but determine the league’s regular-season champion it already had become painfully obvious that the physicality and raw emotion displayed would set a tempo that would rival any other game played this season.

Fairview’s 2-1 victory over Fossil Ridge was mostly highlighted not by a great night of goalkeeping or the offensive fireworks that the Knights showcased within the game’s first 14 minutes. It will be remembered as a night filled with tackles, charges and an overall intensity that appeared as unsettling as the evening’s chilly temperatures.

“It was an ugly game,” said Fairview striker Shane O’Neill. “Both defenses stood strong and it was (frustrating) for both offenses.”

O’Neill, a potential All-American, appeared especially bothered by the defensive nature of the game. He was one of the league leaders in scoring coming into the game but his numerous attempts to add to his totals were continuously denied by a tenacious Fossil Range defense.

Fairview’s victory ups its league-leading record to 9-2-2, two wins ahead of Fossil Ridge (7-3-2) with just two games in the regular season.

“Every game with this much on the line will be physical,” Fairview coach Stan Jozwiak said. “There was a lot of effort on both sides. We’re a team that likes to score goals but we had to win with our defense tonight.”

With less than 26 minutes remaining in the first half the Knights found themselves up 2-0 and it appeared they may be on the verge of a rout.

Amos Nash scored in the game’s ninth minute and five minutes later Eric Kronenberg became the second Knights player to beat Fossil Ridge goalie Josh King in their first five shots.

King recovered and didn’t allow a goal over the game’s final 65 minutes despite a number of good opportunities Fairview.

“They have a really good goalie. Most nights some of those kicks would have been goals but this was a different (kind of) game,” O’Neill said.

Fairview concludes its regular season with a home game Tuesday against Monarch followed by a road game against Poudre on Oct. 19.

Fairview 2, Fossil Ridge 1

At Fairview H.S.

Fossil Ridge (7-3-2, 5-1-1) 1 0 — 1

Fairview (9-2-2, 6-0-2) 2 0 — 2

Goals (assists) — Fairview: Amos Nash (Eric Kronenberg), 9th minute; Eric Kronenberg (Jack Mayfield), 14th minute. Fossil Ridge: Aaron Lew ( Delfino Balderas) 37th minute.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Alan Schuerman (80-1-3). Fossil Ridge: Josh King (80-2-17).