BOULDER — As if there was any question Jack Dooley was going to score the game-winning goal for Boulder on Wednesday night.
The junior striker had a score to settle with the Poudre Impalas.
In the teams’ regular season match in Fort Collins, Dooley suffered a broken collarbone and those around the Panthers program were wondering if he would be ready to go in the playoffs.
“I just love the team so much and being able to come back from injury,” Dooley said. “They are a great team.”
After a scoreless stalemate through 80 minutes at Recht Field, the Panthers strung together three straight passes down the field, with Dooley the final recipient, and from a tough angle he delivered to the far post to advance Boulder 1-0 past Poudre and into the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
“I didn’t have that much angle, I just shot it,” said Dooley as he was being mobbed by the Boulder student body that rushed the field. “It is what it is.”
Said Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher: “His first practice in a while was Monday and we trained that shot all night for him because that is his money shot and he pulled it off when it counted.”
Third-seeded Boulder (13-1-3) will host No. 22 Chatfield on Saturday at Recht Field in the quarterfinals. The Chargers also won in overtime, 4-3 over Westminster.
It was senior Brian Castruita that sprung Dooley on his run down the left flank, and despite being hounded by a Poudre defender, Dooley got just enough on his shot to beat Impalas keeper Sheldon Kim — who was brilliant in making nine saves.
“We played good soccer in the second half, but they really picked it up,” said Poudre coach Erik Eckhoff, whose team finished 8-7-2 and handed the Panthers their only blemish in the Front Range league a 1-1 tie on Sept. 16.
“That was three passes and a goal, so that a little disappointing, but that is what playoff soccer is about too, those goals you are not expecting.”
It was a night full of chances for the Panthers, especially in the second half. Sushant Gurung and Paolo Wilczak both had great looks, with Wilczak getting a one-on-one chance thwarted in the box by Poudre defender Preston Roche.
“We wish we weren’t playing a Front Range team that early and obviously both teams got better as the season progressed,” Kalisher said. “That was a really quality game and we settled down a lot in the second half and really stuck to our game plan.
“We kept the ball on the deck and that really started to wear them out a bit and got them on their heels, they had a few counter attacks, but for the most part we were able to play our game the way we wanted to.”
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Boulder 1, Poudre 0, OT
At Recht Field
Poudre (8-7-2) 0 0 0 — 0
Boulder (13-1-3) 0 0 1 — 1
Goal (assists) — Boulder: Jack Dooley (Brian Castruita), 84th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Poudre: Sheldon Kim (84-1-9); Boulder: Leo Huettel (84-0-1).