NIWOT — Last season, Stephen Dimit and his Niwot soccer team found themselves in a lot of tight matches.
In fact, they played 10 one-goal matches — not including their loss in PK’s to Evergreen in the playoffs — and won five and lost five.
If the start to 2017 is any indication of future success, then it appears the Cougars have figured things out. They are off to a 3-0 start, winning all of their games by one goal, including Saturday’s 1-0 nonleague affair against Standley Lake.
“For the most part, the guys kept their cool today,” said Dimit, whose team lost this match a year ago 1-0 to the Gators, “And the guys played a really gritty game.”
The Cougars were fantastic in the first half and held the slight edge in possession, but had the majority of the quality looks on frame.
They were rewarded for that effort in the 28th minute, when off a corner kick, midfielder Johnny Jimenez Flores sat back and had the ball deflect back to him — some 35-yards out — and he rifled a shot over Gators keeper Simon Van Den Abbeele that the lanky goalkeeper couldn’t touch.
“They told me to go in for the corner and I told them no, I’m going stay back because I am the six,” said Jimenez Flores of the moments leading up to his first goal of the season. “So when I saw the ball and I took a touch and I got it.”
And he knew it when he hit it, too.
“That was a pretty good ball,” he said.
Said Dimit: “JJF hit a banger. It was so good and over a tall keeper, too. It was nice to get a goal the way we practice corners and I praised the guys for that at halftime.”
The Cougars, now riding the wave of momentum, went in search of their second goal but it never materialized despite the best efforts of Dylan Campbell. The senior striker was turned away late in the first half and then had a good look roll just wide in the 69th minute.
The Gators (0-2-1) registered all three of their shots on goal in the first half and were never really able to connect things in the second against what turned out to be a steadfast Cougars backline.
“Our first half was excellent, and I though our movement up top was exactly what we work on and they couldn’t figure out who was playing what up there,” said Dimit, whose team will face another stiff test on Tuesday against Skyline — a team that drew 3-3 with Standley Lake. “The second half was more reactive.”
In addition to the cross-town rivalry game against Skyline next week, the Cougars will also welcome in Lewis-Palmer next Saturday.
NIWOT 1, STANDLEY LAKE 0
Standley Lake (0-2-1)00—0
Goal (assist) — Niwot: Johnny Jimenez Flores (unassisted), 28th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Standley Lake: Simon Van Den Abbeele (80-1-4); Niwot: Mario Munoz (80-0-3).