Arvada West boys soccer tightens up 5A Jeffco with shutout win over rival Ralston Valley

Arvada West sophomore Eli Ross (20) gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead early in the second half against rival Ralston Valley at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

ARVADA — Arvada West boys soccer threw a monkey wrench into the race for the Class 5A Jeffco League on Thursday night.

The Wildcats (9-3, 5-1 in league) defeated rival Ralston Valley 2-0 at the North Area Athletic Complex.

“It feels good. It’s been a couple of years,” A-West coach Troy Gette said of ending a 2-game losing streak against rival Ralston Valley. It had been since 2015 since the Wildcats had defeated the Mustangs on the soccer pitch. “It was a big game and the boys rose to the occasion. I thought we dominated from the opening whistle.”

The victory leaves A-West, Ralston Valley (5-4-2, 4-1) and Chatfield (9-3, 4-1) atop the conference with one league loss each with just a few conference games remaining for the next few weeks.

Ralston Valley junior Hayden Miller (9) tries to make a move on Arvada West sophomore Kyler Tate on Thursday night at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“It will be a fight to the end,” Ralston Valley coach Jamie Scarcliff said of league race where the Mustangs are trying to win a third straight conference crown. “We’ll just have to hope for some wins and losses in certain games and see how it pans out.”

The Mustangs came in Thursday red hot with four straight league wins. After a rough 1-3-2 non-league record, the Mustangs were the lone undefeated team in the conference and with the inside track to one of the two automatic bids Jeffco is awarded for the 32-team 5A state tournament.

However, second-half goals by A-West sophomores Eli Ross (47th minute) and Gabe Schultz (72nd minute) gave the Wildcats the big conference victory and extend their winning streak to four games.

“Getting that first goal was one of the biggest things for me this whole season,” Ross said. “As a team we played amazing.”

Senior Evan Keasling fired a direct free kick toward the net in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Ross was able to get a foot on it to knock it past Ralston Valley goalie Cooper Steputis.

“I was in my own little world,” Ross said of his goal. “I saw the ball come through and I thought that was mine.”

Arvada West senior Evan Keasling (16) and Ralston Valley senior Cort Johnson (4) battle for the ball Thursday at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

A-West junior Judah Johnston did most of the work on the Wildcats’ second goal. The midfield was able to flick the ball over the head of an A-West defender to continue his run down the sideline. Johnston fired a pass to Schultz, who blasted a low shot toward the far post.

Ralston Valley was held to just a few good scoring chances in its first shutout loss of the season. A-West goalie Latham Kleckner picked up the shutout victory in net.

“We struggled to connect together offensively today,” Scarcliff said. “I think A-West worked hard today. They were able to put the ball away and finish.”

Ralston Valley’s non-league schedule was packed with four teams — Denver East, Legacy, Grandview and Arapahoe — all currently in the top-10 for the 5A boys soccer rankings. The Mustangs did managed a scoreless tie against No. 6 Arapahoe.

Ralston Valley finishes out conference play against Pomona, Chatfield and Bear Creek over the next two weeks. The Mustangs also have a non-league game squeezed in against Castle View.

A-West has more than a week-long break before its next game on Oct. 15 at Lakewood Memorial Field. The Wildcats finish off their regular season against Dakota Ridge, Valor Christian and Eaglecrest before waiting to see their playoff fate.

“We’ve got to take care of business against Valor,” Gette said. “Hopefully things work in our favor.”

The Class 5A Jeffco League title is up for grabs now with Arvada West, Ralston Valley and Chatfield all with just one conference loss heading into the final few weeks of the regular season. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)