ARVADA — The 4-1 score of Denver East’s boys soccer win over Ralston Valley on Monday night was a misleading margin of victory.
Denver East, No. 3 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 5A boys soccer poll, got a pair of goals from junior Zion Wagoner in the final two minutes to make it a 3-goal differential. However, the momentum had already changed dramatically in the 76th minute at the North Area Athletic Complex.
“We’ve all played hundreds of games and I’ve never seen something like that,” Ralston Valley senior Mason Miller said. “In soccer you never know what to expect. You have to be ready for anything.”
Denver East senior Rene Perez received a yellow card after fouling a Ralston Valley player in the Angels’ goal box with just more than four minutes to play. East held a 2-1 lead at the time. Miller bent a free kick inside the box around a wall of Denver East players and past Angel goalie Oliver Chamberlin to apparently tie the game at 2-2.
However, after a meeting between all three officials and both coaches the goal was taken away. There was confusion if it should have been an indirect kick, direct kick or penalty kick.
“It should have been either indirect or a penalty kick,” Denver East coach Kirk Bast said. “Those are the only two choices.”
After the goal was take of the board the officials had Miller take a penalty kick on Chamberlin. Chamberlin was able to get a piece of Miller’s shot and it hit the post to say out of the goal. Wagoner’s two goals less than a minute apart sealed the strange victory for Denver East.
“I feel a little defeated that it ended that way,” Ralston Valley coach Jamie Scarcliff said.
It was a strange night for Miller, the Mustangs’ returning leading scorer with 16 goals as a junior. He shot a PK over the net in the 42nd minute that would have tied the game at 1-1. Miller did score the Mustangs’ lone goal in the 69th minute on a laser shot just under the cross bar when a ton of traffic in front of him.
Miller admitted he felt like he let his team down.
“He (Miller) can get upset and angry about it until we step on the pitch tomorrow for practice,” Scarcliff said. “We have to move on. It will be a little work to get his head back on, but I think he is fully capable of it. Tomorrow we will work on rebuilding that confidence.”
Denver East senior Chase Henderson came off the bench to deliver a key goal for last year’s Class 5A state runner-up.
Henderson entered the game late in the first half and hammered a shot past Ralston Valley senior goalie Cooper Steputis with three minutes left before halftime to break up the scoreless tie.
“Chase is a worker,” Bast said. “It was so nice to see him finish. He is a kid day-in and day-out works so hard in practice.”
Steputis had been brilliant making diving saves of shots from junior Ethan Boyle and senior Marko Babiak, but Henderson finally found the back of the net on the breakaway attempt for the Angels.
The Angels (1-0 record) extended their lead to 2-0 in the 48th minute with a shot from senior Langston Hood that rocketed just under the crossbar after the Mustangs (0-1) weren’t able to clear the ball out of their defensive zone.
Denver East compiled a 18-2 record, giving up just eight goals the entire season. However, Broomfield defeated the Angels 1-0 in the state championship game. The Angels graduated eight seniors, including leading scorers Sam Carson (20 goals) and Eli Miller (10 goals).
“We don’t look at it in a sense of last year,” Bast said. “We have to look at us now and this group of guys. We’ve still got a ways to go to be honest.”
Ralston Valley returns a bevy of talent from last year’s team that went 6-1 in Class 5A Jeffco League play to capture the conference title. The Miller brothers — Mason and Hayden — combined for 22 goals last year. Seniors Sammy Keller, Ethan Watne, Jason Yevak and Ben Johnson are also back to give the Mustangs a ton of varsity experience under their belt.
“Overall you are never going to be happy with a loss,” Miller said. “Denver East is a very, very program and a good team to play against. At the end of the day there are a lot of positives to take and it’s a learning experience.”
The Mustangs travel to Littleton Public Schools Stadium to face the last year’s 4A Jeffco League champion Littleton (1-0) at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30. The Lions shutout Dakota Ridge 2-0 last week in their opener.
“All we can do is go from here knowing we were in the game with a top team,” Scarcliff said of the loss to East. “This is only one game for us, so we have a long way to grow and build off of.”