THORNTON — The Skyline Falcons wanted more than to be some other team’s ‘wake-up call’ in the Class 4A state boys soccer tournament.
Saturday at Skyview, the young Falcons did put together an effort that symbolized a team with promise — their junior class going blow-for-blow with a senior-heavy Wolverines team that came into the came without a loss, with three dynamic scorers and who many think can make a run better than last year’s quarterfinals appearance.
Skyview proved to step up when it mattered against the Falcons, though, winning 2-1 on the strength of a Luis Reyes goal in the 55th minute that answered Skyline’s only score of the contest. The No. 3 seed moves on to play upstart Erie, who beat Pueblo West on the road Saturday. The Falcons end the season 8-7-1.
“It’s a good ending. Unfortunately, you don’t want to lose, but this was an ending that shows some things to look forward to in the next coming years,” said head coach Luis Chavez, whose team had but three seniors this season. “We talk about crucial minutes after a goal, and how those are the kind of things where you can’t just let down and allow that to happen.
“We gave them a run for their money.”
Skyline also made the quarterfinals in the 2018 playoffs, but this was a group that had to gel through the season, and slowly but surely the Falcons built up discipline end-to-end. On Saturday, for most of the 80 minutes, that was on display.
Skyview came out firing quickly, getting some decent looks from well outside the 18-yard box to keep the home fans hoping and the Skyview bench eager. After a few Skyline corner kicks were snuffed out midway through the first half, however, the Wolverines were able to get on the board on a set piece in the 31st minute — a play where it appeared Skyline goalie Riley Primeau was screened and a curled-in shot from Jared Ramos flew right through the wall and right past a stunned Skyline crew.
Skyline rebounded to keep the Wolverines, who have three players with at least 12 goals, under wraps from a shots-on-goal perspective most of the game. The few opportunities for Skyline to counter, then, proved fruitful when the Falcons evened up the score with a Alex Meza headed-in score in a flurry and scurry off a corner kick in the 51st minute.
It was persistence that the Falcons have exhibited all season.
“We got in their way, and it was certainly great to see the boys match (Skyview’s) intensity a lot of the time, getting even higher than them at times,” Chavez said. “We’re a little inexperienced … just a young team with a lot of heart and a lot of desire. We wish we would have gone the route of being able to put up more chances, gotten a couple of goals and be scrappy to get more in their way.”
While Skyline did continue to pressure through the end of the game, Reyes’ goal within five minutes of the Skyline tally proved the difference. It wasn’t an immediate counter from the Wolverines, but they did get an opportunity along the end line to get a pass, a settle into the middle of the field close in on goal, and eventually Reyes with the ball on his foot and eyes wide open toward a specific target, which he hit with ease for his 18th goal.
Primeau had five saves, while counterpart Brian Fierro had to make just two stops on solid shots to get the win.
Erie and Skyview will play at Skyview on Tuesday night, with kickoff time still to be determined.