GREENWOOD VILLAGE - The scene that unfolded after the Nov. 3 Class 5A boys soccer state quarterfinal between Cherry Creek and Eaglecrest said it all.
Several of the Raptors lying face down on the Stutler Bowl turf. All of the Bruins huddled together and jumping up and down in the southeast corner of the pitch. One side of the stadium roaring in rapturous delight; the other monastery-like.
It is amazing what one goal can do. In this case, that one goal kept alive the dream of winning a state title for one team while erasing it for another.
Cherry Creek sophomore Kyle Ericson’s goal off an assist from team captain Miguel Jaime in double overtime lifted the No. 9 Bruins to a 2-1 victory over the 17th-seeded Raptors, capping a hard-fought match that required all of 112 minutes to determine the victor.
“That was a great game, the way a high school soccer game should be. No one wanted to quit. No one wanted to give in,” said Cherry Creek coach Chelo Curi, whose blonde-headed boys faced fourth-seeded Smoky Hill on Nov. 7 in a semifinal match, the result of which was unavailable at press time.
But, before the Bruins (11-5-2) could even begin to think about a rematch against Smoky Hill - which defeated them 3-1 back in early October - they had to take care of business against Eaglecrest.
In the eighth minute of double overtime, Jaime corralled a pass, weaved through a quartet of Raptors and slid a pass to Ericson, who poked the ball into the right corner of the goal.
The sophomore was immediately swarmed by his teammates and student spectators who poured from the bleachers onto the field.
“It was exhilarating, just unbelievable,” Ericson said. “(Jaime) played me a fantastic ball. All I had to do was put it in the net.”
Ericson had put a shot in the net that appeared to give the Bruins a 2-12 lead with 15 minutes to go in regulation, but his celebration was cut short when he was called offside after receiving a pass from Jared Alswang.
This time, in overtime, there was no question about it: The sophomore’s goal was true, and the party was on.
“This game was very exciting, very rewarding,” Curi said. “This team has really started playing well as of late.”
After a scoreless first half that was controlled by both teams’ defenses, the Bruins put the first tally on the board in the 65th minute when Jaime gathered a loose ball near the Raptors’ (12-5-1) goal and tapped it in for the score. The ball had ricocheted off Eaglecrest goalkeeper Blend Avdili after a shot from Ikaika Nichols.
Six minutes later, the Raptors’ Symon Fabbricatore broke free and crossed a pass from the right side to Nelson Merino, who scored the equalizer with a shot into the right corner of the net.
Neither team was able to score in the final minutes of regulation, setting up the dramatics.
“It was a fight, a battle,” Ericson said.