LONGMONT — Undefeated looks good on Silver Creek soccer.
After missing out on the COVID-19-delayed Season C Class 5A spring playoffs due to a pandemic-restricted bracket last year, the Raptors knew they had to be perfect if they wanted to make their way into the postseason this year. Their schedule of 4A-majority opponents didn’t help their case last season, but their dominance through it this year couldn’t be ignored.
Prior to Wednesday afternoon’s matchup against 27th-seeded Gateway at Everly-Montgomery Field, no team was strong enough to ground the Raptors. Some came close, but Silver Creek proved unbeatable through 15 regular season matches. That earned them the No. 6 seed in a field of incredibly talented squads.
The Raptors only needed 13 minutes to prove that they can and will rise to the occasion as they defeated the Olympians in a 3-1 final.
“There’s a lot of team chemistry,” senior E.J. Davis said. “I think we work well together, we practice a lot. We just all work for each other.”
Throughout the first 40 minutes of play, the Raptors displayed a high soccer IQ as they utilized precision passing, solid defense and an even stronger midfield to keep the Olympian offense at bay. In the meantime, they scored twice in a two-minute period as Davis capitalized on a corner kick in the 11th minute and sophomore Kael Pacaro followed his lead not long after.
The Olympians couldn’t match the Raptors’ pace through the 2-0 first half, but that changed quickly in the second half as Gateway began to push more and more. Its effort paid off when, in the 49th minute, Zamir Monsivais took advantage of the strong winds at his back to fake out Silver Creek keeper Alex Larner to get his team on the board and close the gap to 2-1.
“We’ve been down and we’ve come back and come back,” SCHS head coach Rob Johnson said. “These guys play with confidence and they’re pretty composed. That wind was hard today because you just see balls pinging off of different things. That was the only piece that was knocking at them but these guys are playing with confidence, so this win definitely builds upon that.”
Larner has been a huge boon to the Raptors throughout the season as the junior phenom had made 76 saves and allowed just 11 goals through regular season play. He, Neruda King and Grant Gaddis have served as a beacon of leadership through numerous injuries and a constantly rotating roster.
“The only two guys who have been to a playoff game were E.J. and Andrew (Van Ens),” Johnson said. “It’s all because of COVID so the sophomores and juniors hadn’t played. The leadership was great out there. Grant Gaddis is our leader in the back, the center back, and Neruda is just our work horse in the middle.”
Davis cushioned the home team’s lead with another goal in the 74th minute to all but guarantee the Raptors would walk away victorious.
With the first round behind them, the Raptors will now look to their next step through the 5A bracket. They will play the winner of No. 11 Grandview vs. No. 22 Regis Jesuit on Tuesday, the details of which should be released within the next few days.
“Everyone’s just been stepping up,” junior Gaddis said. “We have 18, 19, 20 guys on the bench and everyone comes to practice and goes hard and I feel like anyone can step in. We have talent at every level, every position and I feel confident that if anyone goes down, we have someone behind them to step up.”