COMMERCE CITY — It was a beautiful Saturday for soccer. Though Colorado Academy seemed to hit the field running, the brisk morning favored Kent. The No. 1 seed took the Class 3A boys soccer trophy with a 3-0 win over Colorado Academy.
Once the Sun Devils gained majority possession on their offensive half, it was just a matter of time until one of their many through passes and great connections ended in a goal.
They seemed to find every seam, and after a few close ones went over the crossbar, Greer Solarte put a penalty kick past Colorado Academy's keeper, Noah Henry. Solarte's touch kept the ball grounded and to the left to give Kent Denver a lead only 15 minutes in to the first half. The senior, who spent last year playing with the Colorado Rapids developmental team, came back to Kent for his final year. And what a sweet finish it was for the forward.
Though both squad's speed and aggression was matched, Kent was all eyes on goal from there on out. A few shots went sailing just over the goal before another free kick was awarded to Kent. From right outside the box, Max Mehlman snuck the ball through the entire Colorado Academy line and into the top right corner of the goal.
The remaining seven minutes of the half were full of whistles and yellow cards. In the final seconds, Kent once again had a free kick but Colorado Academy kept it out to head into halftime with a 0-2 deficit.
Kent goalkeeper Cole Whitaker finally saw some action in the second half, as Colorado Academy brought a new level of play to the turf. The Mustangs had the first of many shots on goal, only seconds into the second half play. But in regular fashion for the season, Whitaker managed to keep his team out of trouble.
After the Mustangs were awarded a free kick, the hope was high for a comeback, but Whitaker had a diving save, putting momentum right back at his teams feet.
"I could not be happier. I did what I had to do," said Whitaker, "I am so proud of the guys."
Head coach Arty Smith said, "He is a great keeper. He made the saves we needed."
In those latter 30 minutes, Colorado Academy looked ambitious to find the hole in one of the state's best defenses. But instead, it was Kent, whose offense prevailed again with under 10 minutes left. Another halfback, Tyler Nowak, gave a gentle and purposeful poke into the goal to seal the deal for the Sun Devils.
With the win, Kent Denver finishes 19-1, having only lost their very first game of the regular season. They scored 13 playoff goals — and didn't give one up.
"For the most part, we stayed organized when we had to. Colorado Academy did put pressure on us. They moved their guys around but we were able to hold them off," Smith said. "It feels good."
Kent Denver had been to a championship five times prior to Saturday's game. Each time, the Sun Devils accepted the runner-up trophy.
Saturday, they got to keep the gold one.