BOULDER — Fairview was acutely aware of the recent history, and things were unfolding all too similarly Thursday night.
Thanks to a second-half burst, the Knights didn’t have to relive the entire script.
The eighth seed in the Class 5A boys soccer bracket, the host Knights scored all their goals after intermission to oust No. 25 ThunderRidge 4-1. Fairview advanced to take on No. 9 Grandview on Wednesday.
“I think we were all pretty afraid it would turn out the way it did last year,” said Fairview senior Casey Munsch, who scored two goals. “We came out with a different mindset this year. We knew that even though we were ranked higher and we have a really strong team, we had to keep fighting.”
It put to rest nightmares of a repeat of last season, when Fairview earned the No. 7 seed but lost 1-0 to No. 26 Heritage in the first round. Nearly identical in seed as Heritage, ThunderRidge also comes from the Continental League. Then the Grizzlies led 1-0 at the half.
But that’s where the comparison ended thanks to the Knights’ onslaught.
“The difference is we turned some shooting opportunities into goals and we were able to get some distance from our opponent here tonight,” Fairview coach Stan Jozwiak said.
“We’ve found ourselves in similar circumstances a couple times in the last few weeks, where we seem to have a lot of territory, a lot of ball, a lot of chances, but we have to be better with the final touch on the ball.”
That was the story of the first half after ThunderRidge (7-9) jumped ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute when Karlton Lauer headed home a perfect set piece from Jake Wild. Fairview (11-5) peppered 6-foot-4 Grizzlies goalie Michael Castiglione, but he repeatedly thwarted quality chances.
Things quickly changed after intermission.
Munsch converted a cross from Raul Magno in the opening minute. Then Luis Flores scored the go-ahead goal 15 minutes into the half, also from Magno.
Munsch added an unassisted tally midway through the half, then sophomore Ryan Houseman capped Fairview’s seventh straight win with a rebound goal in the 70th minute.
“Until we pulled away, I was really concerned about our defending,” Jozwiak said. “I thought we were soft in the middle and on their corner kicks. Those are things we’ll have to improve on before we get to next Wednesday.”
Call ThunderRidge coach Chris Smith impressed.
“Fairview is a fantastic team and I see them going a long way,” he said. “I think number eight might be a little bit of a low seed for them.”
That being said, the Grizzlies absolutely were thinking upset after taking the early lead. Smith said his Grizzlies are “not the most talented, but we’re gritty and we do a lot of things well.”
Fairview agrees, but the Knights are just delighted to evade the upset this time.
Munsch had been experiencing a semi-prolonged bout of bad fortune before the pair of goals elevated his season total to seven.
“It was really nice,” he said. “There were about four or five games there where all my shots would just not go in the goal. I hit crossbars, posts, good saves by the keeper. It’s a great feeling to finally know that I think I have it back for the playoffs.”
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Fairview 4, ThunderRidge 1
At Fairview HS
ThunderRidge (7-9) 1 0 — 1
Fairview (11-5) 0 4 — 4
Goals (assists) — ThunderRidge: Lauer (Wild), 5th minute); Fairview: Munsch (Magno), 41st; Flores (Magno), 55th; Munsch, 61st; Houseman, 70th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — ThunderRidge: Castiglione (80-4-10); Fairview: Ray (80-1-3).