• Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Niwot High School's Jonathan Jimenez-Flores fights for the ball with Brayan Aguirre during a CHSAA 4A second-round playoff game against Skyview on Tuesday in Thornton.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Niwot High School's Manny Tapia, left, celebrates after scoring a goal during a CHSAA 4A second-round playoff game against Skyview on Tuesday in Thornton.



THORNTON — Jesus Gonzales and Manny Tapia scored five minutes apart in the first half as Niwot jetted to a furious start.

Bracket Busters … to busted up.

It wasn’t enough to hold off undefeated Skyview.

Bryan Vazquez scored twice, Jared Ramos netted the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute, and the No. 2 Wolverines survived a scare from the 18-seeded Cougars in a 3-2 victory on a cold and wet Tuesday night in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Up 2-0, Niwot (9-7-1) looked as if it might roll through another road test in the postseason — six days removed from winning at Pueblo West 1-0 in Round 1. Instead, Skyview (17-0) scored three straight and two in the final 15 minutes to punch its ticket into the quarterfinals.

The Wolverines will face seven-seed The Classical Academy — which beat Holy Family in penalties earlier in the day in snowy Colorado Springs.

“We had our chances,” Niwot coach Stephen Dimit said. “We had a few opportunities to put that game away.”

Vazquez tied the game at 2-2 in the 65th minute on a deflected chance in front of the net. Off a corner, Niwot tried to clear but Vazquez corralled the ball behind the box and ripped a shot into chaos. From first glance, his low-lining ball appeared to bounce off a Cougars player’s foot and redirect past keeper Mario Munoz.

Not long after, Ramos then had the game-winner thanks to another strange bounce. Appearing to again hit a player before the net, the junior’s slicing shot changed directions just feet before Munoz.

“It was unlucky,” Gonzales said. “They had two deflections and there’s nothing Mario could have done.”

A mix of rain and snow pounded the turf at Skyview’s field all day and throughout the night. Conditions were slippery, and players on the field were fit in gloves while those on the bench cradled under small tents.

Niwot just didn’t seem to care.

Gonzales scored in the 13th minute and Tapia added another in the 18th to pump life into an offense that had scored just twice in its previous three games. Gonzales, the senior captain who is called “Chuy”, corralled a deflection just inside the box and ripped his third goal of the season, and Tapia drove down the left side of the field and speared a low-lining shot into the right corner of the net.

Skyview then answered with its first of three on Vazquez’s penalty goal in the 25th. The Cougars were called for a trip in the box and Vazquez slid a shot under a leaping Munoz to make it 2-1.

From there, Niwot just missed while Skyview seemed as if it couldn’t.

“Their chaos balls went in and ours didn’t,” Dimit said. “That’s kind of what happened in the second half.”

At the final horn, Niwot players crumpled to the ground in tears and anguish. Dimit walked over to keeper Munoz and the two embraced.

The Cougars were this close from delivering what would have been the biggest upset of the tournament to date.

“Even though we were ranked 18th and we did drop a few games,” Munoz said, “we knew if they put us against anyone in the state we would give them a fight.”

A fight, they did.

Brent W. New: , bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com and @brentwnew

Skyview 3, Niwot 2

At DiTirro Stadium

Niwot (9-7-1)        2 0 — 2
Skyview (17-0)     1 2 — 3

Goals (assists) —Niwot: Jesus Gonzales (unassisted) 13th minute; Niwot: Manny Tapia (unassisted) 18th; Skyview: Bryan Vazquez (PK) 25th; Skyview: Bryan Vazquez (Roger Ibarra) 65th; Skyview: Jared Ramos (unassisted) 73rd.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Mario Munoz (80-3-9); Skyview: Brian Fierro (80-2-5).