Fairview senior forward Hugo Harezlak didn’t put up huge offensive stats like some of the other Front Range League standouts during the regular season. His Knights, meanwhile, were the only Boulder/Broomfield County team outside the top 10 in the 5A postseason field — left behind the likes of No. 1 Legacy, No. 4 Broomfield, No. 5 Boulder and No. 9 Monarch.
But as rival Panthers keeper Owen Kalisher tweeted following the state quarterfinals Saturday, it’s been a “wild year to say the least.”
If you had No. 12 Fairview and 3A No. 7 Peak to Peak as the last of the local teams standing, you might be a genius — though, probably a liar. The programs have already delivered as underdogs in these playoffs as they head into the semifinals Wednesday. And fittingly enough, they’ll again be the lowest seeds remaining in each.
“The most important thing was that everyone on our team believed despite the odds and seeding we had,” said Harezlak, whose team will face No. 8 Ralston Valley at Englewood High School at 8 p.m. “On top of that, we did a good job of learning from our previous mistakes.”
With the senior forward who’d totaled just three goals and an assist in the regular season leading the way, the Knights delivered consecutive upsets over the last two rounds, beating No. 5 Boulder and No. 4 Broomfield after losing to them in the regular season.
Harezlak — doing his best impersonation of Legacy star Cooper Stephens, who had three consecutive game-winners in last year’s postseason — scored a go-ahead goal in the 78th minute to oust the Panthers, then buried the overtime winner to beat the Eagles in the quarterfinals.
Now in order to get back to the finals, with a chance to win a second title in three seasons, he and the rest of the Fairview attack will have to figure out how to get past Mustangs goalie Evan Bierman.
The No. 1 Lightning couldn’t in the last round.
Diving saves in high school will always garner attention, though Bierman’s denials Saturday were enough to leave you in wonder. How did he stop Tate Hansen’s precisely hit PK in the 79th minute? And when was there enough time to get to his feet and block the ensuing rebound chance?
“We’re practicing hard right now and our coach has given us a lot of film to work through,” Harezlak said. “Ralston Valley is a pretty similar team to us. It’s going to be a close game for sure.”
Then, the Pumas. The small school finished with its worst record in a decade the year before current coach James Wagenschutz took over the program during the pandemic. That 2021 spring team beat Kent Denver for the first time in 11 years in his first season, and it followed with its first postseason win since 2017 that fall.
After beating Jefferson Academy for the first time since 2015 Saturday, the Pumas are a win away from getting back to the state finals (their last trip in 2005 resulted in their first and only title). Following Jorden Gyaltsen’s overtime winner Wagenschutz said his players pledged, “We’re not done yet.”
“In many ways we’re very humble and our humbleness allowed us to (confidently) walk into Jefferson Academy … the guys expected what was coming and said we’re going to go at them today,” Wagenschutz said. “Kudos to the players.”
Led by an offense averaging three goals a game, a keeper in Logan Hughes who has 10 shutouts on the year, Peak to Peak will face No. 3 Coal Ridge at 8 p.m. at Jefferson County Trailblazer Stadium.