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MONUMENT — Centaurus senior forward Giovanni Nunez missed eight games this season with an ankle injury. But he wasn’t about to miss the Warriors’ first-round state soccer playoff game against Lewis-Palmer.

Nunez scored both Centaurus goals, including the game-winner at the 10 minute, 39 second mark of overtime to vault the Warriors to a 2-1 victory over Lewis-Palmer in a game played at Don Breese Stadium.

“(Lewis-Palmer’s) defense was great,” Nunez said. “Toward the end of the game they knew that my teammates were sending me the ball. I just tried to stay a couple of yards in front of the defenders.”

Centaurus (9-7), the No. 22 seed in the Class 4A tournament, will host No. 27 Denver South (6-8-1) in a second-round match on Tuesday. Denver South was a surprise 2-1 winner over No. 6 Wheat Ridge on Wednesday.

Centaurus defeated Denver South, 1-0, Sept. 7 at Denver South.

Nunez had just three goals during the regular season, which ranked fifth on the team in that department. Twice during the match with No. 11 Lewis-Palmer (10-5-2) he lay on the field in obvious pain.

“My left calf and my right ankle, but I had to fight through it,” Nunez said. “We didn’t make the playoffs last year and this is our year.”

Nunez’s game-winner did not come without controversy. Centaurus senior midfielder Eric Spangler sent a sky ball from midfield in the direction of Nunez, who was at about 20 yards to the right of the Rangers’ goal. From there, Nunez dribbled a couple of times and then fired a shot past Lewis-Palmer junior goalkeeper Jack Clark.

The Lewis-Palmer players and coaches screamed foul, claiming that Nunez pushed down Lewis-Palmer senior defender Alex Allenspach to get in better position to boot the ball. Nunez thought the contact was incidental, but was surprised the officials did not call him for offsides.

“I could have been offsides; I thought I was offsides,” Nunez said. “(The refs) usually call offsides on me a lot.”

Lewis-Palmer coach Brian Barkey was surprised a foul was not called on Nunez.

“It was absolutely in my opinion a foul,” Barkey said. “Everything to that point had been called tight. That was the standard that the referees set. To have that not called surprised me.”

After a scoreless first half, Nunez got the Warriors on the board in the 41st minute off an assist by junior forward Gabe Antunez. Antunez booted a pass about 50 feet in the air in the direction of Nunez, who shot it from about 30 yards past the outstretched arms of Clark.

Lewis-Palmer tied the score in the 56th minute when senior midfielder Gavin Grabb found the back of the net from about 15 yards. Centaurus junior goalkeeper Ventura Dominguez made a valiant effort to stop the shot.

Centaurus’ offense was relatively quiet until the final two minutes of the second half when it had three great opportunities to win the game in regulation. Antunez had the best chance with 45 seconds remaining, but he hit the right post from about 12 yards out.

“I was sure I was going to get that, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to,” Antunez said. “I was hoping I would get that so we wouldn’t have to worry about the ‘Golden Goal.'”

Centaurus coach Ken Ebersole said he was impressed with the way his team responded to the Lewis-Palmer pressure on both sides of the ball.

“The first 15 minutes it was like we have to survive,” Ebersole said. “We had to play a bit more defense, but then we opened it up a little more.

“I think we tired them out at the end of the half with our passing game. We knew we had to come out again in the first 15 minutes of the second half because they were coming at us again.”

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Centaurus 2, Lewis-Palmer 1

At Lewis-Palmer H.S.

Centaurus (9-7) 0 1 1 — 2

Lewis-Palmer (10-4-2) 0 1 0 — 1

 

Goals (assists) — Centaurus: Nunez (Antunez), 41st minute; Lewis-Palmer: Grabb, 56th minute; Centaurus: Nunez, (Spangler), 85th minute.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed) — Centaurus: Dominguez (85-1); Lewis-Palmer: Clark (85-2)

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