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  • Niwot's Jake Feiner moves the ball in front of Pueblo...

    Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Niwot's Jake Feiner moves the ball in front of Pueblo Centennial's Grant McCafferty in the first half at Niwot High School Wednesday afternoon. Niwot won 4-1.

  • Niwot's Max Brown disagrees with an official's call in first...

    Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Niwot's Max Brown disagrees with an official's call in first half against Pueblo Centennial at Niwot High School Wednesday afternoon.



NIWOT — The Niwot High boys soccer players weren’t up to their own usual lofty standards.

Still, Wednesday’s short-handed performance was more than adequate for the Cougars to advance to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament. Hosting the 27th-seeded Pueblo Centennial Bulldogs (11-5), the sixth-seeded Niwot Cougars (15-1) overcame an early deficit to collect a 4-1 opening round victory.

“We weren’t up to full strength and we could have played better than that,” Niwot junior Justin Barkow said. “That definitely wasn’t our best performance but we got the win. I think we let off the gas because we weren’t expecting to be down a goal but we pulled through because we know we’re a good team but we realized need to show it in our effort.”

Cougars senior Mark Ramirez, whose 26 goals and 16 assists ranked him fifth in the state with 68 points during the regular season, missed Wednesday’s game after undergoing an appendectomy on Saturday. Attacking center midfielder Brian Oates was too sick to play and defensive anchor Terin Tadewald gutted through illness to finish the game. To make matters worse, the visiting Bulldogs took an early lead when Seth Legan scored in the 10th minute.

Without several key pieces, the Cougars turned to Barkow (23 goals, 20 assists), who was sixth-best statewide with 66 points in the regular season, to get them back in the lead with goals in the 23rd and 34th minute.

Despite its early struggles, Niwot led 2-1 at halftime.

“We played some players who hadn’t played a lot of minutes but we all struggled together,” Cougars head coach Rob Johnson said. “I just tried to step back and let them organize themselves and they did. It’s a mentality when you’re down and not at your best to just go out there and take care of business.”

Cougars sophomore midfielder Jake Feiner gave his team some breathing room with a 49th-minute score and junior varsity call-up Roberto Amaya iced the win with a goal in the 73rd minute.

The second-place team out of the South-Central League, Pueblo Centennial features a dynamic scoring duo in seniors Jumanne Transou (18 goals) and Jair Flores (14). But against an offense that averaged 3.5 goals per game during the regular season, the Cougars defense held up in front of five saves from goalkeeper Shane Ryan.

The Cougars have reached the state quarterfinals in two of the past three seasons. Looking to exceed that finish in 2015, the Cougars hope to get Ramirez and the others back before they face 11th-seed Standley Lake (11-5) in the second round. That game will be played at Niwot High next Tuesday.

Brad Cochi: or

Niwot 4, Standley Lake 1

At Niwot H.S.

Pueblo Centennial






Goals (assists) —
Pueblo Centennial: Seth Legan (Jumane Transau), 10th minute; Niwot: Justin Barkow (unassisted), 23rd minute; Justin Barkow (Roberto Amaya), 34th; Jake Feiner (Roberto Ramirez), 49th; Roberto Amaya (Justin Barkow), 73rd.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —
Pueblo Centennial: Dimetri Orozco-Joyce (80-4-13); Niwot: Shane Ryan (80-1-5).

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