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Boys soccer: Peak to Peak upsets Coal Ridge to punch ticket to championship

Peak to Peak's Micah Thengvall takes the ball downfield at Trailblazer Stadium during the first half of the Pumas' state semifinal game against Coal Ridge on Nov. 9, 2022. (Alissa Noe/
Peak to Peak’s Micah Thengvall takes the ball downfield at Trailblazer Stadium during the first half of the Pumas’ state semifinal game against Coal Ridge on Nov. 9, 2022. (Alissa Noe/

LAKEWOOD — Peak to Peak boys soccer needed a hero, and freshman midfielder Micah Thengvall was more than happy to step up to the plate. After all, a trip to the Class 3A state title game was on the line.

With 49.2 seconds left in regulation, the snowflakes starting to fall at Trailblazer Stadium, he worked through a mass of goal attempts and deflections to put one right through the Coal Ridge keeper’s legs.

That last-minute goal lifted the seventh-seeded Pumas past the No. 3 Titans in the 2-1 final. Now, their season that was once considered a rebuild will take them all the way to the championship, 17 years after their first and only state crown.

“My teammate yelled, ‘Leave it,’ but I was not going to do that. I shot it, wasn’t a great shot, but it went in,” Thengvall said. “It just felt great. I knew that we were going to go to the next round, something we haven’t done in so long.”

A year earlier, the Pumas bowed out in the second round, then graduated over half of their roster. This year’s young squad proved that turnover didn’t matter.

Peak to Peak caught fire this fall after an opening 1-0 loss ignited a winning streak that included six victories and one tie. Only Jefferson Academy and Colorado Academy, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, were able to steal a couple more wins from the Pumas.

Peak to Peak returned the favor when it defeated Jefferson Academy in the quarterfinals in a 2-1 overtime thriller. Head coach James Wagenschutz believes the Pumas’ very own Metro League, which sent six teams to the postseason, prepared his boys for a run they’ll never forget.

“I think we’re the toughest league in the state for 3A and playing Metro League opponents. We had to beat two of them to get to here,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of the season they’ve put together thus far. They’ve shown time and time again, that they deserve to be here, especially the last (three) games coming back from a goal down. It shows the resilience and the character of the team all season long.”

Fifty-eight minutes passed before either team was able to break through the other’s defenses on Wednesday night. When the dam broke, however, the flood came quickly. The Titans gave themselves the advantage first in the 58th minute with a 50-yard free kick from Ethan Stickler that snuck right through senior keeper Logan Hughes’ hands.

That didn’t sit right with Thengvall.

The Puma freshman, after earning his own free kick, sunk it into the back of the net from about 15 yards out less than a minute later. Both squads had plenty of chances after that, but only Thengvall managed to break through when it mattered most to avoid overtime and send his fans into a frenzy.

Now, they’ll get to test the waters against top-seeded Colorado Academy, a team they know very well, under the bright lights of Switchbacks Weidner Field in Colorado Springs at noon on Saturday.

Wagenschutz thinks his boys will be ready for the challenge.

“I think with every passing day, they’ve grown stronger as a family,” Wagenschutz said. “They’ve gotten stronger as a bonding unit together and they’ve matured. I think in many ways, this season has accelerated their maturity. That’s evident by big time players showing up in big time moments and everyone accepting their role and responsibility on the team and executing it very well.”

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