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David R. Jennings
Holy Family’s Jay Elliott fights to control the ball during the Tigers’ opening-round victory against Liberty Common in the 3A state tournament.

BROOMFIELD — It’s not as if Nate Dalton is an invisible presence on the Holy Family offense. He just often gets outshined by some of his prolifically-producing teammates. Yet on Friday Dalton picked a prime time in which to grab the spotlight.

Dalton scored two goals in a 47-second span early in the first half, jump-starting the Tigers’ offense as fourth-seeded Holy Family recorded a 4-1 victory against Liberty Common in the first round of the Class 3A boys soccer state tournament.

Holy Family (11-3-2) will host Peak to Peak in a second-round match on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

“Nate is definitely one of those hidden players. People don’t see him very much because he’s not very vocal,” Holy Family coach Kathy Hogan said. “But when he gets there, he’s very lethal. I was very proud of him to see the way he came out tonight, because he hasn’t scored in a while. It was good to see.”

Dalton got things started for Holy Family, creating his own opportunity for his first goal when one of his shots ricocheted off the crossbar. The sequence led to a Holy Family corner kick, which Dalton retrieved amid a scrum in front of the Liberty Common net to convert for his fifth goal of the season.

Dalton wasted no time netting his second goal, tracking down a long crossing pass from Nick Rhoden to push a header just inside the far post, giving the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.

“It was important that we scored in the beginning quick to get the momentum and start off the game good,” Dalton said. “I honestly didn’t expect to score that second goal. We kind of lost our pace at the end of the first half, but we got it back and finished strong.”

Liberty Common, a school that became CHSAA-sanctioned this year and was making its first appearance in the state tournament, suffered a scare about 4 minutes after Dalton’s second tally when starting goalie Rob Knab charged after a loose ball and collided with Rhoden. Knab took a knee to the side of his head, suffering a concussion that led to Logan Kirkman taking over in goal.

A header goal by the Eagles’ Arjun Gill off a long cross from Mason Campbell late in the half cut Holy Family’s lead to 2-1 at the break, but the Tigers regrouped in the second half, getting goals from Zach Burk and Jay Elliott to put the match away.

Saturday’s showdown against Peak to Peak will be a rematch of a game Holy Family won 2-1 on Sept. 27. The Tigers prevailed that day on a late penalty kick from Preston Arguello, and Holy Family will look to take advantage of a Peak to Peak squad that played two entire overtime sessions during its first-round win on Friday.

“When (Peak to Peak) plays us, they play us very, very hard,” Elliott said. “We know they’re going to be ready for us. They’re going to be looking for some payback, but that’s going to be good for us. That’s going to bring out some good competition. We just need to come out, play our game, and hopefully things will go our way.”

Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07

Holy Family 4, Liberty Common 1

At Holy Family H.S.

Liberty Common (8-5-3) 1 0 — 1

Holy Family (11-3-2) 2 2 — 4

Goals (assists) — Liberty Common: Arjun Gill (Mason Campbell), 29th minute. Holy Family: Nate Dalton, 12th minute; Dalton (Nick Rhoden), 13th minute; Zach Burk (Patrick Borer), 59th minute; Jay Elliott, 67th minute.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Liberty Common: Rob Knab (16-2-1); Logan Kirkman (64-2-2). Holy Family: Robert Hanley (80-1-3).