LAFAYETTE – The Dawson boys soccer team has spent the past year hoping for another shot at the Telluride club that sent them home early with a double-overtime defeat in last year’s Class 2A state quarterfinals.
The Mustangs got their wish on Wednesday and, fittingly, the rematch came under satisfyingly similar circumstances.
Squaring off in the quarterfinals of the state tournament for the second year in a row, No. 4 Dawson and No. 5 Telluride threw everything they had at one another in a physical game on a frigid day at Dawson. This time it was the Mustangs who prevailed, winning 2-0 to advance to the semifinals on Saturday.
“This is a huge win for us that we’ve been talking about forever,” Dawson senior Jesse Isenhart said. “We even had the weather delay with the snow and we were out here shoveling the snow so we could play on it because we’ve been looking forward to this game. Knowing that they put us out earlier than we would have liked last year, there was definitely some heat coming into this one wanting to get back at them.”
On a day when both defenses were holding the powerful opposing offenses at bay, Isenhart broke the game open late.
With the game still scoreless in the 65th minute, Dawson (11-3-2) sophomore Nick Knobel, who leads the team with 19 goals, was taken down in the box and the Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick. Isenthart stepped in and buried the ball into the lower right corner for his 18th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Knobel got loose from the Telluride (11-4-2) defense again in the 74th minute and found himself possessing the ball near the right corner flag with plenty of time. He connected on a long cross to the top with senior teammate Rio Sueyoshi, who collected the ball at the top of the box and scored his 16th goal of the season to seal the win and send the Mustangs into the semifinals.
“We knew they were a physical team from last year and we figured we’d get the same thing this year,” Dawson head coach David Criswell said. “I’m really proud of how they held their own against what I thought was a more physical team than we were. We held out until there were 15 minutes or so left to get a goal but we stayed persistent and kept playing our game. I’m so happy for them.”
The visiting Miners had scored 60 goals in 16 games before the Mustangs defense held them scoreless for its fifth shutout of the season.
The Mustangs will face No. 9 Denver Christian in the semifinals. Denver Christian knocked off No. 1 Colorado Rocky Mountain, 2-1 in double overtime, on Wednesday.
Mile High League rivals, Dawson and Denver Christian (11-6-1) played to a scoreless tie in the teams’ regular-season finale on Oct. 23. The winner of Saturday’s rematch will advance to the 2A championship game at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver.