The April 24 Englewood-Weld Central soccer game lived up to its billing as a battle of two evenly matched teams as 100 minutes of play failed to produce a goal or determine the winner.
But the scoreless tie earned the Pirates at least a share of the league title plus assures Englewood will advance to the state Class 4A state playoffs that begin the week of May 5.
“It was a great game with each team playing hard to try to create scoring opportunities and fighting not to give the opponent that inch of advantage. The teams were into it, the crowd was into it and it was a fun game to watch,” Pirates Coach Chris Kavinsky said after the game. “This was our final game that counts in league standings. We are undefeated in league play with one tie which assures us of at least share of the league title and reaching our preseason goal of going to the state playoffs.”
After the April 24 game, Englewood was atop the league with an 11-0-1 record and a 4-0-1 league mark. Weld Central's overall record was 11-1-1 and league record was 3-0-1 while third-place Skyview was 11-1 overall and 3-1 in league. The top two teams in the final league standings qualify for the state playoffs.
Kavinsky said a game that will impact the final league standings was played April 29 when Weld Central traveled to Skyview. A Weld Central win would leave the Rebels and Pirates tied with 4-0-1 records. They would share the league title and a tie-breaker will be used to determine state playoff seeding. A Skyview win would leave the Wolverines 3-1-0, they would finish second and Englewood would have sole possession of the league championship.
Englewood still has two games on the regular season schedule. The Pirates played a non-league contest on the road April 29 at Fort Morgan and closes out the regular season with a non-league contest against Elizabeth on May 1.
A playoff atmosphere marked the April 24 Englewood-Weld Central game as a key battle between two good soccer teams for the Colorado 7 League title.
The contest quickly developed into a hard-fought effort on both sides that prohibited either team from controlling the tempo of play.
At the faceoff, Englewood pushed the ball toward the Rebels' goal. Rebel defenders captured the ball and pushed the ball back the other way.
Both teams played cautious soccer. Once a team pushed the ball across midfield, just about all the other team's players dropped back to help turn back the attack.
The entire game, players raced up and down the field but the wall-like defenses made shots on goal hard to create. The unofficial statistics had Weld Central putting five threatening shots on goal and Englewood putting four shots on the Rebels' goal.
Both teams played a physical style. Collisions between players going after a loose ball were frequent and often the collisions left one or both players on the ground. It is unlikely any athlete who took part in the game left the field without a few bumps and bruises.
Englewood established a milestone in Pirate soccer as the team has not give up a goal so far this season.
After the game, Pirate goalie Miranda Holman smiled as she said she never expected to go this far in the season without giving up a goal.
Holman, who plays softball and basketball, came out for soccer for the first time this season, the team needed a goalie and she volunteered to play the position. She said her skills in the other sports and her athleticism helped her learn quickly how to play goalie.
“This was a big game, the biggest game I've played and I was so nervous all day,” the Pirate senior said after the game. “There was a lot on the line and I felt the pressure of preserving the scoreless streak.”
Holman said the key to playing goalie is to focus and never lose sight of the ball. She said the toughest shot to field is when the ball is headed for the other side of the net.
“If they get a good shot at the far post, that is a lot of ground you have to cover quickly,” she said. “So far, our defenders have made it hard for the other teams to get many really good shots and if they hit the ball well, I have been able to get to it and keep it out of the net. Tonight was big and it feels great to know we are going to the state playoffs.”
Sophomore Tori Harris is one of the starting defenders this season. She said friends talked her into coming out for soccer last spring, it was fun, so she came out again this season and earned a starting spot.
“I really like playing defense,” she said after the game. “I like to be aggressive and physical so defense is the best position for me.”
Harris said her goal in every game is to win as many loose balls as possible.
“Against Weld Central, their players didn't pay much attention to me at first but, when I started winning most of the loose balls, they came after me when the ball was in my area,” she said. “They tried to be physical and move me out of position but I went right back at them so it was fun. I have a few bruises but I am happy we played so well and that we didn't give them many good shots at the goal.”