Kira Horvath / For BoCoPreps.com
Kira Horvath / For BoCoPreps.com
LONGMONT — With the Longmont soccer team having not won a state playoff game since 2010, things didn’t figure to be easy for the Trojans on Wednesday night.
And sure enough, despite being the fifth seed in the 4A bracket and facing 28th-seeded Erie, it was the furthest thing from a walkover.
But in a game in which the Tigers arguably had more good scoring opportunities in the first 70 minutes of the contest, LHS eked out a 1-0 first-round victory at Everly-Montgomery Field.
“Tonight, watching them warm up, I could tell they were nervous,” LHS coach Mike DiGiallonardo said of his players. “Longmont hasn’t gotten out of the first round (in recent years), so that’s lingering in the back of their heads. But in those last few minutes, they turned on the focus. They started possessing the ball better at the end.”
Indeed, it took until the 72nd minute, but leading scorer Ruben Ordaz saved the day for Longmont, with a big assist from senior Jose Garcia Martinez. Martinez out-battled a couple of Erie players for the ball around mid-field, then sent a pass downfield to Ordaz, who was left with just Erie freshman goalkeeper Dylan Brown between himself and the net. When Brown came out to cut down the angles, Ordaz scored his 21st goal of the season, sending a groundball to Brown’s left and into the goal.
“One-on-one against the goalkeeper, I couldn’t miss,” said Ordaz, a junior. “I just had to make a goal because that was the only opportunity we pretty much had.”
The victory kept Longmont unbeaten in its last 10 games. A year after going 5-10, the 4A Northern League champs are 14-1-1. On Tuesday in the round of 16 they’ll host 12th-seeded Durango, which beat Denver West 2-1 on Wednesday.
As for Erie, it finished 11-5 after making its first state appearance in just the second season for the program.
“Coming in, we really thought we matched up well with (Longmont), which we did,” EHS coach Dayton Owens said. “But we didn’t get one and they did and they advance. I’ve got to console a whole bunch of seniors. There’s a lot of tears over there. But I’m very proud of the way they played.”
Indeed, through the early part of the second half, there was little question that Erie had come the closest to scoring. Sophomore Colin Heinl had a 25-yard shot glance off the crossbar with 14 minutes remaining before intermission. Senior Joshua Michels had his short attempt deflected away by Longmont keeper Joel Chavez about 10 minutes later. And shortly after halftime, senior Dominic Byrd had an opening with Chavez out of position, but couldn’t put a good foot on the ball, and LHS senior defender Jesus Mora kicked it away as it rolled within two feet of the goal line.
With those chances going by the wayside, Ordaz made the most of his run in the 72nd minute.
“Ruben getting that opportunity with that through ball, that’s what we were looking for,” DiGiallonardo said.
“I knew No. 17 (Ordaz) was their player,” Owens said. “We kept him out of there most of the time. Just that one he got away on — and that was it.”
Longmont improved to 9-1 on the season in games decided by one goal and posted its fifth shutout victory.
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Longmont 1, Erie 0
At Everly-Montgomery Stadium
Goals (assists) —
Longmont: Ruben Ordaz (Jose Garcia Martinez), 72nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —
ErieBrown (80-1-7); Longmont: Chavez (80-0-1).