Arvada West boys soccer wins 5A Jeffco crown in dramatic fashion

Arvada West junior Drew Bender, far right, and his teammate sophomore Bradley Day joins the chase along with Ralston Valley sophomore Ryan Jones (2) and senior Nathan Huber (7) during the Class 5A Jeffco League finale for both teams Wednesday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. A-West clinched its third straight conference title with a 1-0 victory over Ralston Valley. (Dennis Pleuss)

Arvada West junior Drew Bender, far right, and his teammate sophomore Bradley Day joins the chase along with Ralston Valley sophomore Ryan Jones (2) and senior Nathan Huber (7) during the Class 5A Jeffco League finale for both teams Wednesday night at the North Area Athletic Complex. A-West clinched its third straight conference title with a 1-0 victory over Ralston Valley. (Dennis Pleuss)

ARVADA -- Arvada West’s boys soccer team had a flare for the theatrical in the final week of conference play.

On the same day (Monday) A-West entered the Class 5A CHSAANow.com poll at No. 10, the Wildcats dropped their first 5A Jeffco League game of the season against Bear Creek at the North Area Athletic Complex.

“Last game we had breakdowns and didn’t play our normal game,” A-West senior captain Cruz Marquez said of the 1-0 loss to Bear Creek. “All good teams have bad games, but we took it to heart and didn’t want that feeling again. We knew tonight meant a lot.”

The league finale Wednesday night at NAAC against rival Ralston Valley now had the conference crown riding on it. A-West took care of business this time around with a 1-0 victory.

Marquez scored the lone goal on a direct free kick from about 35 yards out in the 70th minute. The shot deflected off a defender and Ralston Valley sophomore goalie Daniel Black got a piece of the shot, but not enough to keep it from trickling into the net.

“When it left my foot I thought I could have hit it a little better,” Marquez said. “I saw it go in and it was the happiest feeling I’ve ever had.”

Arvada West sophomore Bradley Day (2) tries to keep his balance as Ralston Valley junior Samuel Yevak closes in Wednesday during the final Jeffco League game of the season at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. (Dennis Pleuss)

Arvada West sophomore Bradley Day (2) tries to keep his balance as Ralston Valley junior Samuel Yevak closes in Wednesday during the final Jeffco League game of the season at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. (Dennis Pleuss)

It’s the third straight 5A Jeffco title for the Wildcats (11-3, 7-1 in league). Chatfield (10-3-1, 6-1-1) and Ralston Valley (10-4-1, 5-3) are the other two automatic qualifiers from Jeffco for the 32-team tournament. The state tournament bracket will be released Sunday.

Ralston Valley had a few chances on A-West senior goalie Shazz Heale in the second half. The Mustangs’ best chance game on a direct free kick with 18 seconds left in regulation time. Heale was able to corral the shot from junior Taylor Mazza to preserve the sixth 1-goal victory of the season for A-West.

“It’s a young group and they are taking a lot of learning curves from every game,” A-West coach Troy Gette said. “It’s a team that really rises to play the big games.”

The goal now for the Wildcats is to avoid a third straight first-round exit from the state tournament. Gette is confident this team’s makeup will help achieve that goal.

“This team is a little different because it doesn’t have the one or two superstars,” Gette said. “It’s a good group that works hard and defends well.”