The question before the board for the Fort Lupton High School soccer program is can it get past the second round of the state 3A playoffs.
The Bluedevils advanced to the second round for the third time in as many years Oct. 26 by beating Atlas Prep 6-2 on the Bluedevils’ pitch. Ginacarlo Mendez converted a pair of penalty kicks en route to a hat trick. Juan Hernandez added a pair of goals to the cause.
Two years ago, FLHS and Colorado Academy, this year’s opponent in the second round (3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, on Colorado Academy's field), into overtime before the Mustangs won. Last year, the Bluedevils made it to the second round but came up short against Jefferson Academy.
The talk after the first-round win was of the win.
“It was an intense game that we needed to win,” Mendez said. “I got a hat trick, which is amazing.. All the goals I score are for my family and my team. But without the team, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
His first goal was a penalty kick and gave the Bluedevils the lead. The Gryphon’s Noe Pelayo countered with a penalty-kick goal of his own a minute later. FLHS’ Caleb Adam scored on a free kick in the 38th minute, and Mendez lofted a shot over the defense for his second goal ion the 46th minute. Sixteen minutes later, Mendez completed his hat trick.
Pelayo scored on a penalty kick in the 67th minute. The Bluedevils’ Juan Hernandez scored twice in the last 11 minutes of play, including a penalty kick.
“This team has all my best friends that I grew up with,” Mendez said. “the chemistry is so good this year. It helps a lot. It keeps me motivated. It means a lot to me.”
Coach Kyle Reddy said the win lifted a weight off the team’s shoulders.
“We got seeded lower (16th) than we should have been. But we didn’t take care of league,” he said. “That’s the way things go. The boys came out angry. We have to prove to the state that we are a team to be reckoned with. Just because we’re a small 3A school in Fort Lupton doesn’t say anything. We can beat anybody in the state.”
FLHS improved to 11-5 this season.
“I don’t think we’ve seen our best game,” Reddy said. “It’s coming. When that happens, that will be the pinnacle point of our season. They scored a goal. We came back and scored a goal. We owned the game. The team camaraderie and the way we played? The boys are clicking.”
“This team has a lot of love and a lot of teamwork,” Mendez said. “That’s going to push us through.”
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