LAKEWOOD — Niwot’s season came down to a simple exercise. Five penalty kicks to determine if the Cougars go home or advance to the Class 4A semifinals.
After 110 minutes of scoreless, near-miss soccer, the Cougars couldn’t find the magic. D’Evelyn’s Sam Van Sickle beat goaltender Jack Fitzgerald on the final attempt of the night, giving the Jaguars 4-3 edge in kicks and a 1-0 win Saturday night.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” senior Eric Fayeulle said. “I love all these guys. I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”
Niwot (15-2-1) wanted the season to go on but two misses in penalties hurt them. D’Evelyn goaltender Chris Linden stopped Billy Hoffmann and Touzong Xiong, and the Jaguars missed one to set up the drama at the end.
Van Sickle rushed the ball hard and then put a soft shot past a diving Fitzgerald to send D’Evelyn into a celebration.
The emotional Cougars comforted each other after their first loss in 13 games.
“It’s a game of chance,” Fayeulle said. “You see it in the World Cup, some of the best players in the world can miss. It’s kind of a crapshoot. It’s tough to go down like that.”
The Cougars did their best to end it early. After playing defense for most of regulation, Niwot dominated the first overtime. The Cougars nearly scored 18 seconds in and then again three minutes in but Mark Ramirez’s header went over the goal.
They had another chance in the final moments of the first overtime but D’Evelyn headed a potential goal over the net.
“We’ve got to bury our chances,” Niwot coach Rob Johnson said. “If we do that then it doesn’t get to PKs. That’s the hard part.”
D’Evelyn controlled things in the second overtime but couldn’t score, sending it to a shootout.
Niwot was on the defensive for the first 55 minutes of regulation and was fortunate D’Evelyn didn’t score.
In the seventh minute the Jaguars’ Christian Denton had a header go wide left of the post, and Wesley Tedstrom did the same in the 32nd minute.
D’Evelyn’s Jack Draeb missed a golden opportunity when a free kick came to the front of the net and he booted a potential goal wide of the post. In the 30th minute his shot from about 20 yards out was turned away by Fitzgerald.
Niwot struggled early to get anything going in the attacking end. The best chance came on a free kick but it sailed high over the crossbar.
The Jaguars had another scoring chance in 45th minute but a Niwot defender got a foot on a crossing pass to the front of the net before Tedstrom could get a shot on goal.
Twice D’Evelyn nearly had the first goal in the 51st minute. Tedstrom’s shot from about 22 yards out when off the crossbar, the rebound came to Giovanni Fanzese, who also hit the crossbar.
Niwot settled down and responded with a great chance a few minutes later, but Linden stopped Ramirez’s close-in shot in the 52nd minute.
“We realized our season was on the line,” Fayeulle said. “Nobody wants to let anyone down. We needed a goal to get out of here. We didn’t get it but everyone left everything on the field.”
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Niwot 0, D’Evelyn 0
(D’Evelyn wins 4-3 in shootout)
At Lakewood Memorial Field
Niwot (15-1-1) 0 0 0 0 (3) — 0
D’Evleyn (15-2) 0 0 0 0 (4) — 0
Shootout goals (assists) — Niwot: Justin Barkow, Angel Perez, Eric Fayeulle. D’Evelyn: Jack Draeb, Christian Denton, Charles Doebbler, Sam Van Sickle.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Jack Fitzgerald (110-0-8); D’Evelyn: Chris Linden (110-0-7).