The week preceding the postseason soccer slate has been buried by a furious snowstorm.
While teams are accustomed to staying on a certain regimen in the days prior to the first round of the playoffs, Colorado’s nature has served quite a twist. Large amounts of snow and frigid temperatures over the past few days have not only forced school closures across the state but has stirred up changes with high school athletic schedules, too.
Niwot coach Stephen Dimit, for one, is keeping an optimistic mindset.
“It hasn’t been as bad as it could be, to be honest,” said Dimit, whose team will host Regis Groff at Everly-Montgomery Field Saturday. “It is super funny, like I went back and watched some film of previous first-round games and it’s beautiful, and the grass is green. So, I was like, ‘Hmm OK, this is different.’”
The Cougars rattled off eight consecutive wins after a 2-4 start, then lost at Silver Creek last week in a game that decided the 4A Northern League.
Adverse conditions or not, Dimit said his team is prepared for the next step.
“We haven’t been able to practice outside all week, but the guys came out and practiced on Saturday anticipating this,” he said. “And like I told them they’ve been practicing soccer their whole lives. There’s nothing we’re really going to gain in one week that would prepare us that much more than what we already are.”
Tentatively, most of the 5A and 3A games will begin Friday with local temperatures expected to dip as low as the teens.
It’s forecasted to be a bit warmer Saturday when 5A concludes, and most 4A and 2A games kick off. A few non-local 5A and 3A games, meanwhile, are slated for Halloween.
Below are capsules of local first-round games. Times and dates are corresponding with CHSAA brackets as of Wednesday and could change.
No. 1 Legacy hosts No. 32 Grand Junction
Details: Friday at 3:30 p.m. at North Stadium
What to know: The Lightning won the 5A Front Range League and went 14-1 during the year, falling late to Fairview. Tony Romano’s team has a nauseating amount of firepower up front, led by Blake Hansen, who has 16 goals and 11 assists on the year. Along with him, Joey Joiner has 12 goals and 10 assists. Jake Maurek has 12 goals and five assists. Whichever way you look at it, Grand Junction, befitting of its 32-seed, has its work cut out.
No. 5 Boulder hosts No. 28 Mountain Vista
Details: Friday at 4 p.m. at Christian Recht Field
What to know: Boulder has trumped Mountain Vista in each of the past four years, beating the Golden Eagles 3-2 in its last meeting on Sept. 3. In 2019, the Panthers are again strong, deep, talented — a feat maybe even more impressive after graduating star player Omar Castruita. And now they are in an interesting spot atop Quadrant 2 in the bracket, too. With a win over Mountain Vista, they would face the winner of No. 12 Arapahoe and No. 21 Rangeview in the second round. That’s notable, of course, because the Warriors won the state title a year ago.
No. 8 Fairview hosts No. 25 Smoky Hill
Details: Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Fairview’s turf field
What to know: The Knights went 12-3 over the season, falling to Boulder, Rocky Mountain and Broomfield in overtime. Solid all over the field, they are the only team to upend Legacy this year. And on top of that, they’re 8-0 at home. If the seedings go accordingly, the Knights would face Broomfield in the second round.
No. 9 Broomfield hosts No. 24 Douglas County
Details: Saturday at 10 a.m. at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium
What to know: Mawolo Easton has 17 goals this season, including 10 in the month of October. Jim Davidson’s teams seem to always have another gear coming into the postseason, and time will tell if the Eagles will rise again in 2019. To Broomfield’s 48 goals this season, Douglas County has scored 29. Twelve have come from junior Maddox Tinjum.
No. 4 Silver Creek hosts No. 29 Canon City
Details: Saturday at noon at Everly-Montgomery Field
What to know: The 4A Northern champ’s lone loss of the season came to Legacy in its season opener. Besides that, Rob Johnson’s team has drawn twice and won 12. Dylan Weiss should be instrumental in what the Raptors want to do, scoring 13 goals while tallying six helpers this year. Canon City comes in on a three-game winning streak.
No. 7 Holy Family hosts No. 26 Centaurus
Details:Saturday at 3 p.m. at Holy Family High School
What to know: Holy Family has been on an absolute tear over the last five weeks, winning 10 straight while claiming the 5A/4A/3A Tri-Valley League title. Its reward? A Centaurus team led by scoring savants Fernando Ruiz and Christian Nunez. Ruiz had 17 goals and three assists on the year, while Nunez has 16 and 15. Dylan McIntosh, a stud himself, leads the Tigers with 15 goals and 16 assists.
No. 15 Niwot hosts No. 18 Regis Groff
Details: Saturday at 2 p.m. at Everly-Montgomery Field
What to know: What to make of Niwot? The Cougars lost four of their first six games as part of an absolute brutal schedule that included Legacy, Air Academy and Skyview. They then rattled off eight straight wins before falling to Silver Creek in the regular-season finale. Dimit’s team has dynamic playmakers all over, including Keegan Stobbe who broke out of a goal drought with a mesmerizing hat trick against Longmont two weeks ago. If all the pieces click, Niwot could be in store for a deep run.
No. 19 Erie travels to No. 14 Pueblo West
Details: Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cyclone Stadium in Pueblo
What to know: Erie will have the longest travel of any of the local teams in the bracket — but will that matter? The Tigers have been impressive in 2019, outscoring teams 52-23. To date, Jeff Vigil’s team already has five more wins than it did in all of 2018 and the most since 2015 (11). Zach Crooks has 12 goals and Evan Hutson has 11 to lead the scoring.
No. 30 Skyline travels to No. 3 Skyview
Details: Saturday at 1 p.m. at Skyview
What to know: Skyline appears to be playing its best soccer in the last few weeks. Luis Chavez’s group fell by just one to Holy Family in the middle of the month, then beat Berthoud, drew with Erie and beat Mullen. Gabriel Sosa has had a nice senior season, scoring 14 goals while adding eight assists. Skyview, however, has yet to lose this season.
No. 20 Jefferson Academy travels to No, 13 Middle Park
Details: Friday at 2 p.m. at Middle Park High School
What to know: Don’t let Jefferson Academy’s 8-7 record fool you. The Jaguars were served Legacy, Holy Family and Centaurus in their nonconference slate before going 7-3 in the 3A Metro League. Ethan Livingston has 10 goals on the year for Matt Cassell’s group, while Chrisly Kelly and Andrew Smith each have nine. The Jags are young — with only have four seniors listed on their MaxPreps roster — and Middle Park will be a big test at 12-3.
No. 24 Mead travels to No. 9 Arrupe Jesuit
Details: Friday at 6 p.m. at Regis Jesuit High School
What to know: Mead had 10 wins in the regular season, three more than its first five years combined as a soccer program. Now the question is how long will the Mavericks’ breakout for the storybooks last? Watch out for Fernando and Hector Contreras, who have been strong in turning the program around. Now, they and the rest of the Mavs have a large hurdle in Arrupe Jesuit, which is on a five-game winning streak and finished the season 12-2-1.
No. 28 Peak to Peak travels to No. 5 Roaring Fork
Details: Friday at 4 p.m. at Carbondale Middle School
What to know: Peak to Peak, like Jefferson Academy, had a brutal schedule to open the fall. The Pumas faced Valor Christian, Kent Denver, Longmont, Dawson, Colorado Academy and Holy Family in its first six games, starting 1-5. Since then, James Davies’ team has won five of nine. In the meantime, Roaring Fork won seven straight before falling at Coal Ridge in its final game of the season.
No. 4 Dawson has first-round bye