LAKEWOOD — For the first 30 minutes Monday night at Lakewood Memorial Field, Wheat Ridge’s boys soccer team looked like a team that could compete with the elite teams in the tough Class 4A Jeffco League.
The Farmers put four goals into the back of the net in the first 27 minutes in a non-league game against Class 5A Jeffco’s Dakota Ridge. Wheat Ridge cruised to a 5-0 victory to get its record to 4-4 on the season.
“We were able to possess a little bit in our offensive zone and to control the game,” Wheat Ridge coach Dave Osse said. “We did a great job of that in the beginning. If we play like we did the first 30 minutes we can play with anybody.”
Wheat Ridge junior Daniel Hernandez got the scoring going with a goal in the 7th minute on a shot from close range that rocketed under the cross bar. Junior Joe Whitney increased the lead to 2-0 four minutes later with a direct kick from near midfield that was placed just out of reach of Dakota Ridge junior goalie Randy Tran.
The Farmers’ leading scorer — sophomore Jorge Baranda — scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season on headers in the 16th and 27th minutes to extend the lead to 4-0 before halftime.
“It’s fun having him (Baranda) around. He is fun. He is energetic. He can make a lot of great touches on the ball,” Osse said. “Hopefully he leads to opportunities to other guys because of his abilities.”
Dakota Ridge (0-8) had a couple of scoring opportunities in the second half. One of the best chances came off the foot of senior Andrew Archuleta in the 62nd minute, but his shot was saved to keep Wheat Ridge’s first shutout victory of the season intact.
The win broke a two-game losing streak while giving the Farmers more wins this season that their total of three victories in 2015.
“We’ve accomplished a lot. I’m proud of my team,” Wheat Ridge senior Ed Adaz-Aguilar said. “We have better chemistry and we know what we are doing.”
Wheat Ridge starts play in the always tough 4A Jeffco conference against Standley Lake at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada. The Farmers look to improve in league after finishing near the bottom of the conference with a 1-7-1 mark last season.
“It gets tough now getting into conference play. We’ve got four tough ones right off the bat,” Osse said of the Farmers facing Standley Lake, D’Evelyn, Evergreen and Valor Christian over the next three weeks. “We’ve got to be ready.”
Struggling has been the case for Dakota Ridge’s boys soccer program. The Eagles’ last league win came against the Bear Creek nearly two years ago on Sept. 23, 2014 in a 5-4 overtime victory for Dakota Ridge. The Eagles actually haven’t won a game since that win and currently have a 28-game losing streak.
“We are still working at it,” second-year Dakota Ridge coach Ryan Miller said of the elusive victory. “We’ll have 10 or 15 minute jumps where the boys look great. It’s about putting a full 40 minutes together in a half and 80 minutes in a game. The boys haven’t given up. They are still working. I think we are just a couple of things away.”
The Eagles’ closest game to end their losing streak was a 3-2 overtime loss to Columbine last season.
Dakota Ridge hopes it can turn its season around when 5A Jeffco League play begins. The Eagles open their conference schedule against Bear Creek at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at Lakewood Memorial Field.
“For the eight seniors on this team, they don’t want to finish with another winless season,” Miller said.