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Boys soccer: Ridgway stuns Dawson School late in 2A title game

Demons score winner with 37 seconds remaining

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Cooper Ahern, right, of Ridgway, tries to get past Rio Sueyoshi, of Dawson. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Jesse Isenhart, of Dawson, collapses on the field in sadness, while Cooper Ahern, Collin Kendall, and Byrd Williams, of Ridgway, run by in celebration. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Collin Kendall. left, of Ridgway, and Jesse Isenhart go high for the ball. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Cooper Ahern, left, of Ridgway, and Rio Sueyoshi, of Dawson, run down the ball. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Pierre Berdou (5) of Dawson, tries to comfort Rio Sueyoshi after the loss. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Nick Knobel, of Dawson, keeps Cooper Ahern, of Ridgway, away from the ball. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Rio Sueyoshi, of Dawson, and Cooper Ahern, of Ridgway, go up on a header. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Jesse Isenhart, right, of Dawson, gets the ball from Christian Lindler, of Ridgway. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Jesse Isenhart, of Dawson, collapses on the field in sadness, while Byrd Williams, of Ridgway, runs by in celebration. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Ollie Mock, of Dawson goes up against Justin Beserra, of Ridgway, on a header. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Sam Freedman (37) of Dawson, collides with Collin Kendall, of Ridgway. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Spencer Sampliner, of Dawson tries to hug Jesse Isenhart, after Isenhart's goal. Alexander Dawson School loses to Ridgway 2-1 in the 2A state championship game on November 16, 2019.

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COMMERCE CITY — A senior class that renovated Dawson back into a state power, then into a viable contender, came up just short of its ultimate goal Saturday afternoon.

Done in by a strange bounce in the waning seconds of regulation — the Mustangs fell to Ridgway 2-1 in the Class 2A state finals at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

A game destined for overtime … suddenly wasn’t.

Demons senior Robert Beserra sprinted down a long boot from goalie Kaden Forrest that had reached the opposite box. Harmless at first, a header from a Dawson defender sent the ball into the air and Beserra nudged himself between him and goalie Tony Aieta as he went for a header of his own.

All three players stumbled on collision, and the deflection sent the ball rolling toward the net.

Aieta scrambled back, but it was too late.

“It’s soccer, you know?” Dawson’s Jesse Isenhart said. “When two teams are close, a flip of the coin can go either way.”

Isenhart — arguably the program’s most accomplished player to date — put on a show in his final game with the Mustangs, scoring on a brilliant free kick in the opening half while just missing out on a few others.

He tied the game in the 23rd with his 19th goal of the year. With the ball placed just outside the box, Forrest directed a wall of defenders right and left, attempting to block any view of the net for the captain. But it didn’t matter and he squeezed a rope into the left corner of the net.

Many of Isenhart’s other chances came up short thanks to strong saves from Forrest — and a bit of bad luck. He nearly opened the game with a goal in the 2nd minute, but his low line drive was pushed just wide. Then in the 61st, he rang a free kick off the top left corner of the frame.

“I think I hit the post three times today,” Isenhart said. “It’s just how it goes some days. They had great players, they fought hard, so props to them getting a goal at the end.”

The fourth-ranked Mustangs (12-4-2), fueled by last year’s premature exit, returned to the championship game for the first time in 21 years. In doing so this postseason, they exacted revenge against Telluride, the team that knocked them out of the 2018 quarterfinals, and grabbed an overtime win against league-foe Denver Christian in the semifinals.

Against Ridgway (12-3-3), the bracket’s 10 seed that beat their first three playoff opponents 13-3, they then looked to be in good shape after responding from a back-and-forth first half with a commanding second.

“We told them before the game and at halftime, walk out on that field at peace with yourselves,” Dawson coach David Criswell said. “And walk off the field at peace with yourselves, because you know you put your full effort into it.”

Earlier, the Demons scored in the 12th minute when Beserra had a look on an open net. Off a corner kick that he’d manufactured by slapping a ball off a defender out of bounds, Beserra got lost around the back post as the incoming kick drifted through a crowd and found him.

He added his 41st of the year with 37 seconds remaining.

Afterward, Dawson posed for pictures with its runner-up trophy. Smiles and red eyes were scattered throughout. The Mustangs will now graduate a decorated senior class that helped them to double-digit wins in each of their last three seasons.

“It’s not the way I would have liked to go out, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” Isenhart said. “I love every single person on this team and the effort put into it. And I hope the program can continue on a high note.”