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Boys soccer: Dawson, Boulder and Broomfield still in the hunt

Mustangs in 2A title game, 5A powers face off in the semis

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Boulder High School’s Bishal Ellison (No. 11) clears the ball at North Stadium in Westminster on Oct. 22, 2019.

Bedecked with a bit of whacky up to this point — whether it’s victory by way of the improbable, or defeat deepened by the piercing cold — we’re now into the final days of the boys soccer season.

Three local teams remain in the hunt for gold.

Dawson, back in a state title game for the first time in 21 years, faces Ridgway in the 2A finale at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday afternoon.

And either Boulder or Broomfield will be there for the 5A title game Friday night after another high-stakes meet-up in the semifinals Wednesday.

“We relish the opportunity to play again,” Panthers coach Hardy Kalisher said. “Regardless of who, what we really relish is we get to play another game.”

Three local teams were eliminated last weekend across the classifications.

Silver Creek and Centaurus fell in the Class 4A quarterfinals. The Raptors made their first trip in program history out of the second round before falling to Air Academy 3-1. Centaurus, the bracket-busting 26 seed, beat Holy Family and Discovery Canyon before falling late at Golden.

Legacy, the top-ranked team in 5A, fell to Broomfield in penalty kicks. It was the second straight year the Eagles ended the Lightning’s season in the quarterfinals.

Fourteen teams from the BoCoPreps.com region made a postseason bracket. Ten of them won at least a game.

Here’s what’s left.

No. 5 Boulder vs. No. 9 Broomfield in the Class 5A semifinals

Details: At EchoPark Stadium Wednesday at 5 p.m.

What to know: Boulder-Broomfield, as “Final Four” as Wooden and Coach K. Boulder outscored its last two playoff opponents 10-1 to clinch a spot in the semifinals for a seventh time in 10 years, the most among 5A teams in that span. Broomfield, meanwhile, used consecutive PK victories to return for a sixth straight year since moving up from 4A in 2014.

History: The two teams have met twice in the state title game since 2014, with Boulder winning in a shootout classic in 2016 and Broomfield winning two years prior to that. Last year, both fell in their respective semifinals. Earlier this year, Boulder beat Broomfield 2-1 in league play.

Boulder wins if … well, if it continues doing what it’s been doing. Which is mugging opponents. Kalisher believes his team has gone from a good team in the regular season to a great one now. Following Sam Phillips’ OT winner in Round 1, the Panthers beat defending champ Arapahoe 6-1 in the second round and Rocky Mountain 4-0 in the quarterfinals. Arroll Taekla has four goals in the last two games and Phillips has three goals and three assists over three rounds. To measure the dominance, the Panthers have more goals (13) than goalie saves (five) in the postseason.

Broomfield wins if … it continues to flourish in the biggest moments. Eagles coach Jim Davidson said last week that his team put some time in on PKs, and it served nicely in wins over Fairview and Legacy the past two rounds. Andrew Boettcher ousted the Knights with the fifth straight PK-make for the Eagles last Wednesday. Evan Judd supplied the walk-off winner against the Lightning Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see what team we’ll see if they find themselves in another tight game. Davidson told BoCoPreps he thought his team played with “a bit of emotional fatigue” against Legacy. So, will they be drained after back-to-back PK wins? Or just really tested?

No. 4 Dawson vs. No. 10 Ridgway in the Class 2A state championship

Details: At Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

What to know: The Mustangs, coming into the season looking for redemption after a stellar 2018 ended too abruptly, could not have scripted things more satisfying so far this postseason. After a first-round bye, they faced Telluride, the team that ousted them in 2018, and won convincingly. Then in the semifinals, Denver Christian scored a late goal in regulation only to see Dawson handle adversity and respond with a winner in the first overtime.

History: Dawson returns to the state title game for the first time since 1998.  Ridgway, in its second year since moving down to 2A, lost in the quarterfinals last season.

Dawson wins if … it can play to its strengths. One of them being its decorated senior class. Senior captains Jesse Isenhart, Rio Sueyoshi and Oliver Mock make up the backbone of a program searching for its first title in boys soccer since 1996. Coach David Criswell said it’s this group that has led the intensity in training since Day 1 this fall. And “they were the ones that held their composure after it was tied 2-2 in regulation (against Denver Christian) and came out strong in the beginning of overtime to win it. It’s been them all along.”

Ridgway wins if … it can out-Dawson the Mustangs. “They play a pretty strong possession-style game that we try to as well,” Criswell said. “If nothing else it will be a pretty entertaining game to see two teams that like to play in possession, and we’ll see how that plays out.” Robert Beserra will likely also need to continue his monster year of production. The senior leads the classification with 39 goals. The rest of his team has 34.