BOULDER — The Boulder High boys soccer team learned from last year’s game how tough a matchup the Denver East club can be.
In 2014, the Panthers needed extra time before the eventual 5A state runners-up could put the East Angels away.
Wednesday night’s rematch at Boulder High didn’t last quite as long, but it still wasn’t easy.
After controlling the attack all night, senior forward Leroy Alphonse finally broke through a scoreless tie in the 35th minute and the Panthers went on to win the early non-conference test 2-1.
“I thought it was a classic early-season game against a good opponent,” Boulder head coach Hardy Kalisher said. “We’ve played Denver East more than any other non-conference team over the last 10 years. They’re always on the schedule because we know to expect an equal game.”
Boulder won last year’s game between the two teams 2-1 in overtime. Entering this year’s contest, Boulder (3-0) was ranked second in 5A by the latest CHSAANow.com poll and Denver East (1-2) was ranked No. 8.
Alphonse’s goal was the result of a perfect crossing pass from senior teammate Paulo Wilczak. Taking 10 shots and putting four on goal in the first half, Boulder had to settle for a 1-0 halftime lead despite many chances that did not produce a goal.
“In that first half, I thought we played some really good, proper soccer out there,” Kalisher said. “We were really moving the ball, sharing the ball, and the build up to that goal was off that team play. Moving forward, we’ll need to work on the final piece of the execution and finish more of those plays so we can get four or five goals in a game.”
On Boulder’s first shot of the second half, which was a free kick from 35 yards out, senior Brian Castruita fired a high shot that caught Denver East goalkeeper Jackson Helbig off guard. Backpedaling, Helbig caught the shot with both hands but then fell backward into the goal before he could throw the ball back onto the field of play.
“I was just trying to put it on frame for somebody to run off it,” Castruita said. “It just went it. It is what it is.”
Five minutes later, Denver East’s Ryan Self scored on a breakaway to cut Boulder’s lead to 2-1. Even with Denver East pressing the issue until the final whistle, Boulder allowed few scoring opportunities down the stretch.
Still undefeated on the season, Boulder will head down to Denver on Saturday to take on Cherry Creek. Last season, Boulder and Cherry Creek played to a 1-1 tie.
Boulder 2, Denver East 1
At Boulder H.S.
Denver East (1-2)
Goals (assists) —
Denver East: Samuel Carson, 48th minute; Boulder: Leroy Alphonse (Paulo Wilczak), 35th minute; Brian Castruita, 43rd.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —
Denver East: Jackson Helbig (80-2-7); Boulder: Miguel Alaniz (40-0-1), Djibril Doumbia (40-1-0).