BOULDER — The No. 5 seed Boulder Panthers had to do everything in their power to avoid an upset from the No. 28 seed Mountain Vista in the first round of the Class 5A state soccer tournament last week.
Having gotten through that, the Panthers looked more like the top seed they were in the second round Wednesday night.
Boulder scored four goals in the first half and went on to win a 6-1 rout over the No. 12 seed Arapahoe Warriors to reach the quarterfinal round of the state tournament.
“It feels amazing right now,” Boulder’s Brady Keuer said. “I can’t lie, I love it.”
The game was briefly delayed due to Arapahoe’s late arrival, and both teams were tasked with playing on a night where conditions were wet and cold in the below-freezing temperatures and light drizzle that fell for the duration of the match.
Those conditions, according to Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher, made his team even more dangerous to face.
“We needed to keep the ball low to the ground and play our game,” Kalisher said. “The wet field gives us an advantage. We’re quick, and it allows us to play quicker. The boys really just executed what we did in training.”
The first task Wednesday was to get off to a fast start instead of allowing an early goal and playing from behind like they did in the first round. Isaac Sherman was able to do that when he received a pass from Max Neumann and hit the bottom left corner of the goal to score just seven minutes in.
Brian Ordaz extended the lead just after the midway point of the first half with a goal off a deflection. The game then changed heavily in favor of Boulder when Arapahoe’s starting goalie was given a red card for making contact with a player outside of the goal box, forcing the Warriors to play with their backup goalie and down a player. Sam Phillips made them pay just seconds later when he booted a pass from a corner kick into the goal.
“It was a good start for us,” Keuer said. “It keeps the ball rolling for us down the line. We had great energy from the bench and the players on the field.”
Keuer scored the fourth goal of the half converting on a cross attempt to put the Panthers up 4-1 at the half. Instead of playing conservative with the lead and man advantage, Boulder continued to try to score and played their fast style in the second half. They would add a pair of goals from Arroll Taekla and keep Arapahoe off the board to finish.
“We just needed to keep going after them no matter what,” Taekla said. “No matter the number of players on the field, we just had to keep pressing them.”
Thanks to a 4-3 win by Rocky Mountain to upset Arvada West, Boulder will play at home in the quarterfinal round with the No. 13 seed Lobos on Saturday. And coming off an impressive performance against the defending state champs at home Wednesday, the Panthers feel they have what it takes to keep their season going into next week.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, but we just have to focus on the next game and make sure we don’t get caught up with it,” Taekla said.