ARVADA — Standley Lake’s boys soccer team is on an upward trend at just the right time.
The Gators (5-3-1 record, 1-0 in league) have reeled off four straight victories just as they head into the heart of the Class 4A Jeffco League schedule. Standley Lake’s latest victory came Monday night with a 3-1 win against Holy Family at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada.
Standley Lake coach Mike Day admitted his squad, which got off to a rough 1-3-1 start to the season, has had to deal with some internal issues.
“We’ve been talking all-season long about being a Gator family. I think that is what really turned it around,” Day said. “The kids are starting to believe, sell out and buy into the program.”
Standley Lake got first-half goals by senior Weston Short and junior Tate Minch on a cold and wet night at NAAC.
Short’s header goal in the 21st minute came off a great centering pass from Minch. Junior Erik Macias-Gutirrez did the hard work on Minch’s goal. Macias-Gutirrez dodged through a handful of Holy Family defenders before passing to Minch who fired a shot past Holy Family goalie Ryan Berry.
Minch scored the lone goal in the second half to seal the 3-1 victory. Day commented that Minch is his own harshest critic.
“He (Minch) thinks he is terrible every single week. I love the humility because I think that is why he is performing on the field,” Day said of Minch. “He has the desire to get better each and every time he is on the field. That is the attitude that makes champions.”
Minch has seven goals on the season, which ties him with Short for the team’s leading goal scorer.
“I am hard on myself a lot, but I feel like I should be proud of myself of what I did out here tonight,” Minch said of his 2-goal and 1-assist night.
Holy Family cut the Gators’ lead to 2-1 at halftime with a late goal by senior Matthew Fountaine. The Tigers’ senior captain was able to deflect the ball passed from junior Darin Chavers just between the near post and Standley Lake goalie Kevin Ruzicka in the 38th minute.
The dynamics of the second half changed with Holy Family junior Jakob Hulquest was issued a red card right at the end of the first half. The Tigers had to play the entire second half a man-down.
“The thing with a red card is as soon as it happens that team is down a man, but they going to come out a lot more angry,” Minch said. “We had to keep the intensity up.”
Ruzicka was able to make a few saves, including a key diving save in the 57th minute on Holy Family senior Lorenzo Centeno. The Gators finally pushed the lead to a 2-goal advantage in the 76th minute with a rebound goal by Minch.
“We just weren’t playing as a team and was a little disconnected,” Minch said. “The last four games we have been working on bounding as a team and playing as a unit. It has yielded results.”
Standley Lake got off to a strong conference start with a 7-2 win over Wheat Ridge in their league opener last week. Standley Lake hopes to carryover its current momentum on the road against Valor Christian on Wednesday night.
“We definitely won’t take Valor easy,” Short said. “It’s another league game and our objective is to win league this year.”
Standley Lake is 1-1-1 against Valor in conference game over the past three years.
“Without a doubt, I’d be lying if I said one of our goals wasn’t to win league this year,” Day said. “For some reason Valor always gives us problems. That is who we have on Wednesday and that is our focus. I’m not worried about Littleton yet.”
The Gators will have time to prepare for perhaps their biggest league test of the season back at NAAC on Monday, Oct. 2, next week. Standley Lake squares off against Littleton (8-0-1, 1-0). The Lions moved up to No. 6 in the CHSAANow.com 4A rankings that were released Monday.
Holy Family (3-5) has been trending in the other direction. After a 3-game winning streak, the Tigers have dropped four straight. Holy Family begins its 4A Tri-Valley League play with a road test against Roosevelt (6-2) at 6 p.m. Wednesday night.