State 5A soccer: One foot sends Ralston Valley home for the season


ENGLEWOOD — The right foot of Fairview senior Joseph Lee is sending Fairview back to the Class 5A boys soccer state championship game.

Lee gave the Knights a 5-4 victory in penalty kicks over Ralston Valley late Nov. 9 at Randy Penn Stadium to punch Fairview’s ticket to the state title game. Fairview and Ralston Valley were tied 1-1 after 80 minutes of regular-time and a pair of 15-minute overtime periods to force the game to go to penalty kicks.

“At the beginning of the season I didn’t even think in a million years would we make it to the finals,” Lee said. “All the work that the young guys put in the whole season paid off. One more. One more.”

Fairview captured the 5A state title in 2020 during the shortened season that was actually played in the spring of 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. The Knights defeated Cherry Creek 2-0 in the state title game May 1, 2021, at Switchbacks Weidner Field to win Fairview’s first boys soccer state championship.

Lee, who was on the state championship team, was the fifth and final Fairview player to score during the shutout. Right after Lee tucked his PK under the crossbar and into the back of the net he sprinted over to celebrate with Fairview’s student section that was gathered behind the fences in the southwest corner of the stadium.

“Credit to all the other four before me. They slotted theirs,” Lee said. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better way to win a state semifinal.”

Nolan Kelly, Owen Gilbert, Tate Ruzzin and Oliver Harmon all made their PKs facing Ralston Valley junior goalie Evan Bierman before Lee delivered the game-winning goal. The Mustangs (13-6 record) made their first four PKs with Michael Ahern, Cooper Hineline, Shaun Martinez and Ryan Mann scoring on Fairview senior goalie Shane Williams.

However, Ralston Valley junior Cole Creasey’s shot went just wide left to open the door for Lee to end the game.

“Relief,” Williams said of his emotions after the shot by Creasey slid just wide.

Williams and Bierman were both brilliant in regular-time and during the 30 minutes of overtime when a light snow started to fall.

“I never hope any games goes to a shootout. That’s a lot of pressure on everyone,” Williams admitted. “It is just hectic, and you need a little bit of luck. We are good in shootouts, and we have trust in ourselves.”

After Fairview and Ralston Valley were scoreless through the first 40 minutes. A pair of goals came back-to-back in the second half.

Ruzzin and Ralston Valley junior Liam Rooney scored 12 seconds apart in the 58th minute to give a quick scoring burst to end the scoring draught for both squads.

Ruzzin lasered a long shot from about 40 yards out that was just over the hands of Bierman to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. However, seconds later the Mustangs used two kicks from midfield that ended up on the head of Rooney, who put it past Williams to knot things up 1-1.

Ralston Valley dominated possession in the first half, but couldn’t get a ball behind Williams. One of the better chances in the first half came off the foot of Ralston Valley senior Pablo Molla Tejero in the final few minutes. His long shot in transition just skimmed off the crossbar.

Bierman made back-to-back saves in the second overtime to keep the game going before the eventual shootout.

“I knew where I was going to go before it even got to the PK spot,” Lee said. “We practice our PKs throughout the season. I missed one the season before and that kind of hits your confidence, but throughout the season I started building it back.”

Ralston Valley High School, Ralston Valley High School soccer, state 5A soccer tournament semifinals


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