LONGMONT — For the first time in program history, the Silver Creek boys soccer team has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the state soccer tournament.
The No. 4 seeded Raptors scored two goals in the first half and recorded a second consecutive postseason shutout to defeat the No. 20 seed Standley Lake Gators 2-0 at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont Tuesday night.
“The captains basically said that it was our time,” Silver Creek coach Rob Johnson said. “We have 13 seniors, and they felt it was their time to make an impact one game at a time.”
After getting off to a quick scoring start in the first round with Cañon City, Silver Creek and Standley Lake played more of a possession battle that saw few shots on goal in the first half. With the Standley Lake defense pushing up to try and help the offense, the Raptors tried to counter with long passes up the field for their forwards to chase down.
Dhani Russell, one of those 13 seniors on the roster, was the main forward trying to reach the through balls up the field in the first half. Some passes missed the mark and sailed too far for him to reach, and a few saw Russell caught offsides trying to get there. Still, the team tried again and again to connect on the deep passes to create scoring chances.
“We were trying to play the perfect ball,” Russell said. “We did try to force it.”
Finally, at the 30-minute mark, Russell was able to get to a through ball pass and scored a goal when he lofted a shot over the diving goalie for Standley Lake to give Silver Creek (14-1-2) a 1-0 lead. Russell also scored the first goal in the opening round of the playoffs.
“It felt like a big deal,” Russell said. “We want to win and we want this really bad. It was very important for us.”
EJ Davis delivered a huge strike from distance with 57 seconds remaining in the first half that doubled the Silver Creek lead to 2-0 going into the halftime break.
Standley Lake (10-7) played aggressive in the second half to try and score a goal and get back into the game. As the physical play intensified and the chances multiplied, Silver Creek was able to hang tough early and get a couple of stops to keep it a two-goal lead.
“We said the first 10 minutes (of the second half) they were going to come out hard, and we had to weather the storm,” Johnson said. “We played some long balls and tried to possess some. We just mixed it up some, and when we can keep the other team off-balanced, we’re a pretty good team.”
The game played more of a possession battle as the second half wore on. A red card with 13 minutes remaining forced Standley Lake to play a man down, and they never got a shot on goal in those final minutes.
What Silver Creek thought could be a special season has turned into a historic one so far, one the seniors envisioned in the preseason this fall.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors that want to play and win and make our last season the best,” Russell said. “This is our time, so we have to shine.”
The Raptors will try to extend their playoff run on Saturday with the No. 5 seed Air Academy Kadets coming to Longmont for the quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Everly-Montgomery Field.