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Boys soccer: Centaurus falls to Golden in Class 4A postseason battle

  • Centuarus High School's (No.) Golden High School at North Area...

    Centuarus High School's (No.) Golden High School at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Antoine Grenier (No. 12) reacts after Golden...

    Centuarus High School's Antoine Grenier (No. 12) reacts after Golden High School scored a goal at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Griffin Meere (No. ...

    Metthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Centuarus High School's Griffin Meere (No. 11) and Golden High School's Zane Walsh (No. 21) chase after the ball at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

  • Centuarus High School's Conrad Haraf (No. 6) controls the ball...

    Centuarus High School's Conrad Haraf (No. 6) controls the ball in the game against Golden High School at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Neal Ackerman (No. 13) battles with Golden...

    Centuarus High School's Neal Ackerman (No. 13) battles with Golden High School's Andres Garfias (No. 11) at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Max Spear (No. 20) and Golden High...

    Centuarus High School's Max Spear (No. 20) and Golden High School's Rowan Messina (No. 17) chase after the ball at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Demitri Wiegand (No. 19) battles with Golden...

    Centuarus High School's Demitri Wiegand (No. 19) battles with Golden High School's Ian Segur (No. 18) at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Calen Michel (No. 8) moves the ball...

    Centuarus High School's Calen Michel (No. 8) moves the ball up the field in the game against Golden High School at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Griffin Meere (No. 11) tracks the ball...

    Centuarus High School's Griffin Meere (No. 11) tracks the ball between Golden High School's Alex Chaffee (No. 5) and Sam Hirons (No. 4) at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Centuarus High School's Calen Michel (No. 8) jumps to play...

    Centuarus High School's Calen Michel (No. 8) jumps to play the ball while covered by Golden High School's Rowan Messina (No. 17) at North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

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ARVADA — Centaurus boys soccer knows how to play tough.

Through 15 regular-season games in a league as difficult as the Class 5A/4A Northern League — which sent five teams to the postseason — the Warriors managed an 8-7 record and earned a top-25 RPI ranking from CHSAA thanks to an equally tough nonconference schedule.

It came as no surprise when the 24th-seeded Warriors, led by their stellar defense, played ninth-seeded Golden tough through a 1-0 loss in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament at the North Area Athletic Complex on Thursday night.

“We’ve played some great teams this season and it’s definitely tested us and made us rise to the occasion and prepared us for this game today,” head coach David Wood said.

No stretch of game demonstrated the Warriors’ defensive strength more than near the 10th minute when the Demons earned not one, not two but five straight corner kicks to really make Centaurus sweat. The Warriors held firm as sophomore keeper Garrett Pugh deflected every shot that came his way and his teammates kept him from needing to do too much in those few minutes.

The Warriors and Demons played tough throughout the first 40 minutes neither seemed to gain much of an advantage, aside from the flurry of corner kicks. They entered the half at 0-0, but that nearly changed in the opening seconds of the second half.

Centaurus was called for a handball in the goal box to give the Demons a penalty kick and, possibly, the lead. Golden’s Zane Walsh lined up for the shot, sized up Pugh and sent the ball right into his fists. No good.

“I watched as much as I could and it went the way I thought. I guessed right and saved it. It’s just an amazing feeling to save a PK in the playoffs,” Pugh said. “We’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs, just as our coach said in the huddle over there. It’s just such a fun group to play with and a fun season all around.”

That good fortune changed in the 52nd minute when, on yet another corner kick, Golden’s Rory Maddux knocked the ball into the back of the net on a header to put the Demons up 1-0. The Warriors nearly netted the equalizer twice in the 68th minute, first off of a corner kick that hugged the goalpost from top to bottom before bouncing out and then off of a straight shot that hit the goalpost directly.

Golden’s defense held firm throughout the remaining 12 minutes as the Demons sent the Warriors into the offseason. Still, Centaurus put up a heck of a fight.

“I thought that we played really hard,” Wood said. “We played with passion and we never gave up until the last minute. We’ve got some really great defensive players on this team and they were able to hold out through those corner kicks and throughout most of the game. One corner kick got in, but the rest of the game, they were really solid.”

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