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Boys soccer: Erie’s unprecedented season comes to an end

No. 19 Tigers fall on the road against unbeaten No. 3 Skyview

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THORNTON – Jeff Vigil has been coaching a long time, and he can only remember once or twice when he got emotional at the end of a season the way he did on Tuesday night.

The Erie boys soccer team’s season had just come to an end with a 4-2 playoff loss to the No. 3-seed Skyview Wolverines, against whom the Tigers were seeded 19th. Three days prior, the underdog Tigers had beaten Pueblo West in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs to claim the first ever postseason victory in their program’s six-year history.

It was a season special enough to overcome Vigil with pride for his players, and one they’ll always remember.

Jeff Fitzjohn of Erie, right, tries ...
Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com
Jeff Fitzjohn of Erie, right, tries to pass the soccer ball to a teammate against Skyview on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

“That’s the respect I have for my boys and how far they’ve come,” Vigil said. “It’s been in the works and we’ve been doing bits and pieces the last couple years but this group has really taken a lot of strides as people as much as anything else. That’s why they’ve grown as players because they know how to do things the right way.”

Even after falling behind early against the unbeaten Wolverines (15-0-2) on Tuesday, the Tigers (11-5-1) had fought back close enough to give themselves hope that their unprecedented run might stretch into one more round.

Skyview led 1-0 at halftime courtesy of a 26th-minute goal from Jared Ramos and the Wolverines pulled ahead 2-0 when Luis Reyes scored his 19th goal of the season in the 48th minute.

Erie junior midfielder Sam Falk gave the Tigers and their visiting crowd life with a goal in the 61st minute. Less than two minutes later, however, Reyes scored again to immediately put the Wolverines back up two. It wasn’t enough to completely dampen down the upset fire, as Erie senior Jeff Fitzjohn cut the lead to one again, scoring off a deflection in the 68th minute.

The Tigers just couldn’t generate the equalizer they needed and Skyview’s Joaquin Diaz scored an insurance goal for the home team in the 76th minute.

“They’re a really good team and they’re tough because they interchange and they’re all over the place and that makes it tough to keep track of their players, especially because they’re all skilled with the ball,” Vigil said. “I’m proud of my guys because they never gave up. They gave it all they had and we had our chances.”

Skyview will play No. 11 Denver North in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Erie, on the other hand, won’t play any more soccer games in 2019 but still has plenty to look forward to. The Tigers will graduate six seniors but players who will return next season accounted for 48 of the 56 goals they scored. Starting goalkeeper Trey Hollis could also be back as a senior in 2020.

Sophomores Zach Crooks and Evan Hutson combined to score 24 goals this fall.