LOUISVILLE — Nothing comes easy in Class 5A soccer, and Tuesday night was no different as Boulder, ranked fifth in the state, staved off an upset from winless Monarch, 2-0.
A late goal from Boulder senior Arroll Taekla sealed the deal as the Panthers bookended the match with goals in the first and last three minutes of play. Another senior, Micah Garry, assisted in his effort during his first match moving from defense to center forward.
“I made a turn and I saw Arroll to my left from the corner of my eye,” Garry said. “I thought about having the shot but then I thought it was better to go and help support the team, so I handed it off to Arroll and he finished it.”
Despite what the high ranking might suggest, the Panthers (3-1-1) have had their fair share of challenges in a shortened season that leaves little room for error. With five games under their belts, Boulder and Monarch (0-5) are now halfway through their 2021 Season C slate.
Taekla and junior Liam Hackett provided the only two scores for the Panthers as junior keeper Evan Sims recorded six saves. Monarch senior keeper Carter Watson earned nine saves.
Boulder started off the evening dominating much of the possession, and its efforts were rewarded early. Just over three minutes into the action, Hackett netted the first goal of the night.
Boulder kicked the ball in from the corner, which junior Calvin Pielke subsequently sent into the crossbar off of a header. Hackett caught the ricochet in the goal box and sent it right into the back of the net.
But that’s all Monarch’s dominant defense would allow in the first 40 minutes, despite multiple opportunities from Boulder. The Panthers, likewise, relied on an ironclad offense and midfield to drive it for most of the first half.
It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of the first half that the Coyotes started pushing the envelope on offense and pressuring Sims. That effort bled into the second half as both teams saw fairly level gameplay.
The Coyote defenders, however, proved to be the true heroes of the match.
“We really just tried to focus on not diving in the back,” Watson said. “Their left wing, Arroll, we really just tried to shut him down. We’d always just rotate our defense to shut him down mostly. I thought our backline was pretty solid. Our left and right back really shut down the wingers.”
The Coyotes managed to hold off the Panthers for much of the last 40 minutes. In the 39th minute of the second half, however, Taekla managed to finally break through. Boulder head coach Hardy Kalisher believes that effort, along with the team’s strong showing on the field thus far this season, can be attributed to the true family culture surrounding the squad.
“We’re playing 20 players every game and I think the second half wore them out. That’s the nicest Monarch playing team I’ve seen in a long time,” Kalisher said. “I think Monarch’s a team that deserves to have a better record than they do because they play good soccer.”
Monarch hopes its valiant effort on Tuesday night will help guide them in the right direction against a similarly tough Fairview Knights on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Boulder will gear up to host Mountain Range at 7 p.m. on the same night.
“I’m always proud of our defensive effort,” Monarch head coach Ryan Brady said. “If you look at the last year, I believe we conceded about 35 goals to seven. We’ve cut that one-third or a half. You can’t say enough about Carter, our goalkeeper, but the whole backline. They’ve kept us in every game throughout the year.”