If Monday at the North Area Athletic Complex is any indication, the Class 5A Jeffco League boys’ soccer conference title race will be quite a ride.
The Standley Lake Gators entered its league game against rival Pomona with an impressive 7-0-0 mark and No. 6 ranking in this week’s CHSAANow.com 5A soccer poll. While on paper it looked like a mismatch, the Panthers pulled out a 2-1 double-overtime victory to improve to 2-4-0, 1-1-0 in league.
“Anything can happen in Jeffco 5A,” Pomona coach Mike Askin said after the dramatic win. “We needed this to get back in the running.”
The game-winning goal was scored in the 94th minute off the foot of Pomona junior Marcello Laguera. Aided by a strong north wind at his back, Laguera’s shot from well outside the goal box sailed over the head of a leaping Standley Lake goalie Ryan Fernandez and into the back of the net.
“I saw that wind and the ball just took a skip,” Askin said of Laguera’s goal. “Elements are part of the game.”
It was the first goal since Pomona junior Jake Semple tied the game at 1 in the 27th minute of the first half.
The Panthers had a couple of chances for the go-ahead goal in the second half. The best scoring opportunity came in the 64th minute when senior Dillon Fee ripped a shot off the far post.
“I thought everyone put in an extra effort to win today,” Fee said. “There are a lot of good teams (in 5A Jeffco). They are young and fresh like us. We can move the ball around and showed we can play in this league too.”
Standley Lake (7-1-0, 1-1-0) now must rebound from its first setback of the season. The Gators haven’t won a boys’ soccer league title since 1990.
Sophomore Kyler Fowkes scored his eighth goal of the season for the Gators in the 11th minute, but Pomona adjusted to a four-back system to bottle up Standley Lake’s leading scorer for the majority of the game.
“I think it will humble us a little bit,” Fowkes said of the loss.
Standley Lake coach Jeff Vigil expected his team to have a target on its back entering league play after the hot start. He also believes his squad will respond positively after the setback.
“This program the last four years has been build on hard work, teamwork, being a family and being dedicated to each other,” Vigil said. “I think until you face adversity you truly don’t know if you are going to succeed in the big picture.”
The next league test for Standley Lake will be an important one against Chatfield (6-2, 2-0) at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Lakewood Memorial Field. Pomona’s next conference tilt is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at NAAC against Bear Creek.
“This league is just crazy,” Vigil said. “Nobody is going to go undefeated in league.”