Past players and coaches from the Fairview boys soccer tree, those who’d long toiled in promising campaigns and postseason runs that ended just shy of the ultimate prize, finally got their state championship celebration last May.
There’s joy in that. Not to mention, a long exhale of relief.
“I’ve got alumni from 10 years ago texting me who I’ve never met,” said Fairview coach Eric Schuler, who helped the Knights break the program’s championship seal in his second year at the helm. “There are alumni, who have fought and come very close, who have shown up to our training over the summer, and hugged the guys and gone, ‘Man, I watched that game online. And I was in tears, it was such a relief we finally got one.’”
The turnaround on it will be quick, though.
High school sports — for now at least — have returned to their designated seasons following last school year’s reworked pandemic setup. That means boys soccer moved back to the fall after playing last school year in the spring.
For the Knights players returning this season, it meant they had about a month to bask in their state title before it was onto summer training.
“There’s been a lot of turnover, especially on the varsity side, but the feeling is to challenge for another state title,” senior midfielder Jake Milanski said. “The young players coming through the varsity program now have the feeling that they need to uphold the high standard and continue to challenge to be one of the top teams in the state.”
Gone from the 2021 championship fold are BoCoPreps.com player of the year Sebastien Mazur and the two other all-region and all-state first teamers in Henrik Helmig and Job Meuleman. They graduated shortly after helping the Knights finish off Cherry Creek in the 5A finals 3 1/2 months ago.
But there’s some nice returning pieces, too.
Milanski was a first-team all-region pick as part of the staunch Mazur-Milanski midfield pairing last season. Schuler said he could be among the best players in the state this season.
Prior to its first game Thursday — home against Arvada West — Milanski was named a team captain alongside seniors Miles Blair, Layne Weeks, Peter Alspaugh and Mckenzie Mazur, as well as junior Shane Williams, who allowed just seven goals during his sophomore season in net.
All of their roles on the team are expected to be magnified this fall.
“I know the team listened to me last year but there is something about the fact that I was four years younger than some of them last year, so I might not have been heard as well,” Williams said. “But now being a captain, and being more comfortable with the team, and more confident in myself, there’s more I can say and more that I feel I can do.”
Last season, Fairview finished undefeated in an all-Front Range League shortened schedule before marching through the 5A postseason en route to its second and only other title game appearance from 1984.
Led then by 10 seniors, a sophomore keeper in Williams — who made a number of PK saves in a quarterfinal win — and a team philosophy coined “heartwork”, described as a team brand based on values, actions and relationships on and off the field, the Knights continued the Front Range League’s recent dominance over the rest of the state in boys soccer.
In the last nine years, BoCoPreps teams have won the 5A title seven times. Of those, Broomfield has won it four times since joining the top classification in 2014. Boulder has won it twice since 2012, and now, Fairview is there, too.
“My sophomore year, we were knocked out of the playoffs by Broomfield who eventually won it all,” Milanski said. “And of course, there’s always that rivalry between us and Boulder. So winning state this year proves to them we’re the top school in the state … not just another team in the county.”
Fairview’s other nonconference games this fall include Mountain Vista (Aug. 28), last spring’s quarterfinal foe Castle View (Sept. 1), Rampart (Sept. 4), and ends with a state rematch against Cherry Creek (Sept. 11).
The Knights open league play at home against Fort Collins on Sept. 14.
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2020 — Fairview (5A), Windsor (4A), Colorado Academy (3A), Crested Butte (2A)
2019 — Broomfield (5A), Skyview (4A), Kent Denver (3A), Ridgway (2A)
2018 — Arapahoe (5A), Air Academy (4A), Kent Denver (3A), Crested Butte (2A)
2017 — Broomfield (5A), Air Academy (4A), Liberty Common (3A)
2016 — Boulder (5A), The Classical Academy (4A), Kent Denver (3A)
2015 — Broomfield (5A), Evergreen (4A), Kent Denver (3A)