D’Evelyn boys soccer adjustments lead to win over Wheat Ridge

Wheat Ridge's Carson Capps (13) attempt to clear a ball as D'Evelyn junior Oliver Hoelscher applies pressure. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

LAKEWOOD — Jockeying for postseason position has officially begun on the soccer fields across Colorado.

D’Evelyn took a nice step in the right direction Wednesday night with a 4-1 victory over Wheat Ridge in Class 4A Jeffco League action.

“We are just trying to find our identity 10 games in, that’s our problem,” said D’Evelyn coach Paul Moline, who guided the Jaguars’ girls team to the 4A state title last spring. “We changed to a new formation tonight. I think it was a little rough in the beginning. We’ll get used to it.”

The Jaguars (6-4, 2-0 in league) took a 3-0 halftime lead at Lakewood Memorial Field. D’Evelyn got first-half goals from seniors Kyle Boyd, Tanner Starnes and junior Oliver Hoelscher.

Boyd punched in a ball that was hanging just on the goal line in the 3rd minute to grab a 1-0 lead.

Wheat Ridge's Ethan Sitzman (1) and D'Evelyn's Tanner Starnes both go airborne Wednesday night at LMF. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“We try to get goals early and quick,” Boyd said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games and really haven’t opened up any games on the scoreboard before tonight.”

Remarkably, D’Evelyn’s first nine games were all decided by a single goal. That trend ended in large part to the formation move Moline implemented.

One of the adjustments came with Starnes moving up into the offensive action more from his normal center back position. Starnes volleyed in a goal past Wheat Ridge freshman goalie Collin Warren in the 26nd minute. He fired in a second goal of the night in the 68th minute off a rebound to make it a 4-0 lead for the Jaguars.

“I got to move up tonight and I think it was a good boost for the team,” Starnes said.

Wheat Ridge (5-4-1, 0-2) prevented the shutout by knocking a corner kick into the back of the net just as time expired.

“It’s a little disappointing for us,” Wheat Ridge coach Dave Osse said of the Farmers’ fourth loss in their last five games. “We weren’t able to control the midfield a little bit and we were a little disorganized in the back in the beginning.”

Despite having records above .500 heading coming into Wednesday night, D’Evelyn and Wheat Ridge were both on the outside looking in when it comes to qualifying for the state tournament.

Wheat Ridge's Vinny Pomponio, left, heads the ball in front of D'Evelyn's Cooper Dale. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Both were out of the top 32 teams in the RPI standings that will fill out the majority of 4A 32-team state tournament field. The 4A Jeffco League champion and runner-up will earn automatic playoff bids.

“For us right now we are just looking at the game ahead,” Osse said when asked about the RPI standings. “That is the one thing we can control. The rest kind of takes care of itself. Our conference is so good that if we take care of a couple of games we’ll put ourselves in a good position at the end of the year.”

The Jaguars wouldn’t mind grabbing one of those spots instead of having to break out their calculators to determine if they are going to be high enough in the RPI rankings.

“This is going to springboard us to the next level,” Starnes said of the win. “It gets us ready to play Littleton and the rest of the teams out there.”

The Jaguars return to action next week with a pair of big road games against Valor Christian (Monday, Oct. 2) and Class 4A’s No. 6 Littleton (Wednesday, Oct. 4). The Lions defeated D’Evelyn last season before the Jaguars went on their run to their state quarterfinal appearance.

“(Littleton) beat us last year and we had a great team last year,” Moline said. “I’m excited for the game. We’ll fair OK.”

Wheat Ridge returns to Lakewood Memorial Field for conference games against Evergreen (Monday, Oct. 2) and Valor (Thursday, Oct. 5).

D'Evelyn boys soccer will attempt to grab key 4A Jeffco League road wins against Valor and Littleton next week. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)