COLORADO SPRINGS — In what looked like a slugfest in the making, Class 3A's top-ranked Kent Denver Sun Devils scored all three of their goals in the second half as they shutout No. 9 Colorado Springs Christian School 3-0 Thursday.
The Sun Devils (5-0 overall) were more than happy to escape the 4 Diamonds Sports Complex in Colorado Springs with the win considering that CSCS (4-1-1) was without four starters, two of which being the Lions' best defenders.
"I had my two center backs out," Lions coach Jason Rollins said. "That makes everyone have to adjust and play different positions and we just played our hearts out."
Even though the score showed 0-0 after the first 40 minutes of play, both teams were not without their scoring chances. In the first minute of the game Sun Devils forward David Felman was able to navigate behind the Lions defense and get a quick shot off.
The ball went wide of the net, but it was a clear indication that the Kent Denver offense intended to put pressure on the depleted Lions backfield.
“We just stuck to our game plan,” Sun Devils coach Arty Smith said. "The big difference was that in the first half our through balls, the wind was carrying them over the end line."
Note even a minute later, the Lions responded as David Benthem saw Caleb Miller streaking down the left side. Benthem kicked the ball ahead of Miller who was able to get his own shot off, which also went wide.
Within the first 120 seconds of the game, both keepers had been put on notice that they had their work cut out for them, but they were up for the challenge. The teams went into the first half tied 0-0, turning the game into a question of who would break first.
The depleted Lions defense finally ran out of steam and Max Gottesfeld found Felman who buried the shot past CSCS keeper Jake Zander to give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead.
"It felt great," Felman said. "We had been attacking the goal all game long and we had a lot of opportunities. It was great that one finally went in."
The goal seemed to spark Kent Denver as they upped their intensity, looking to take advantage of a CSCS team lacking depth with four starters gone. The Lions kept pressing to try to get back in the game and even had their chances with a shot going off the Kent Denver crossbar before keeper Ross Rainaldi was able to clear it from the goal area.
But the Sun Devils soon struck again as Robby Dunn found Davis Oudet in front of the net. Oudet was able to get the ball just beyond Zander's reach for the Sun Devils' second goal of the game.
Oudet would strike a minute later and Kent Denver finished off the 3-0 win. But Smith knows that the potential of seeing a complete CSCS in the playoffs is there and that the result of this game shouldn't dictate what would happen if they did indeed play again.
"We will certainly respect their team," Smith said. "Straight up the middle, they have some great players with fantastic speed and they gave us everything we could handle."