LAFAYETTE — The first round of the 4A boys soccer state tournament is not the time to be waiting around for something happen. The playoffs are the time to make something happen.
On Wednesday at home, nothing was happening offensively for the 12th-seeded Centaurus Warriors against the 21st-seeded Standley Lake Gators. The responsibility to make something happen eventually fell to senior forward Gabe Antunez.
In overtime, the Warriors’ all-around offensive leader came through with a clutch sudden-death goal to seal a 2-1 victory for the Warriors (12-3-1) and send them to the second round.
“I was really frustrated and I didn’t want to go to penalty kicks,” Antunez said. “I just went for it. Their defense was really tough all game but we found a way to work it around them to score.”
Warriors senior defender Jose Espin received a red card for a foul inside the box in the 60th minute. Gators (9-7) senior scoring leader Adam Williams (10 goals) made the resulting penalty kick, firing it just out of Dominguez’s reach into the lower left corner.
Sparked by what the players felt was an unfair send-off, the short-handed Warriors responded. Sophomore Agustin Rodas Miguel cleaned up a deflection off teammate Eric Williams’ shot to even the score 10 minutes later.
While the game grew more and more tense, standout goalkeeper Ventura Dominguez continued to keep the Warriors in the game. He made seven saves and allowed only the penalty kick to enter his net.
“It was nerve-racking to me,” Dominguez, who has 75 saves this season, said. “I was nervous but I felt fine and I’m proud to call myself a captain. I just made sure that I was prepared every time they would come up to the goal.”
It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Antunez, who leads the Warriors with 12 goals and nine assists, ripped a shot from over 30 yards out to break the tension and send the home crowd into the night happy.
The Warriors, who won seven of their last eight regular season games, did not put a shot on goal in the first half, while the Gators had five. It wasn’t until the 59th minute that the Warriors finally put a shot on target. Before halftime, the visiting Gators out-shot the home team 10-2.
“Ventura had a fantastic first half and he was obviously the key to them not scoring,” Warriors head coach Ken Ebersole said. “In the second half, we just kept working hard and I’m still wondering what happened on the red card. But I tell you what, the way the boys played and fought to come back from 1-0 and down a man is a testament to them. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Entering as the No. 22 seed in last year’s tournament, the Warriors advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Cheyenne Mountain.
The Warriors will face fifth-seeded Northern League rival Niwot (14-1-1) in the second round on Tuesday. The Cougars defeated the Warriors 1-0 on a second-half goal during the regular season and the Warriors will have to face them without Espin, who must sit out the game for receiving a red card.
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Centaurus 2, Standley Lake 1 (OT)
At Centaurus H.S.
Standley Lake (9-7) 0 1 0 — 1
Centaurus (12-3-1) 0 1 1 — 2
Goals (assists) — Standley Lake: Adam Williams (penalty kick), 60th minute; Centaurus: Agustin Rodas Miguel (Eric Williams), 70th minute; Gabe Antunez (unassisted), 88th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Standley Lake: Kevin Greibel (80-2-4); Centaurus: Ventura Dominguez (80-1-7).