AURORA — After sealing a 3-1 victory over Glenwood Springs in the Class 4A boys soccer semifinals at Legacy Stadium, the Kadets of Air Academy could achieve a rare feat, potentially winning back-to-back crowns in boys soccer.
No 4A program has double-dipped in consecutive seasons since Dakota Ridge (1997, 1998).
Air Academy is now 17-1-1 on the season with their only setback coming at the hands of 5A power, Boulder, in August. The Kadets are the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
The upset-minded Demons, the No. 20 seed, struck first on Wednesday though as Leo Micelles found the right side of the net with a left-footed touch in the 18th minute. Three minutes later, Thaddaeus Dewing snuck the equalizer past goalkeeper Carlos Guardado.
A second goal by Dewing a few minutes after that, he has a total of 26 on the season, provided an edge the Kadets wouldn’t relinquish. Adin Schwenke tacked on an insurance goal in the 53rd minute.
In last year’s finals, a sterling senior group for Air Academy helped top Centaurus 1-0.
And so, in a nearly unprecedented total for Colorado, the program will be appearing in their ninth boys soccer championship match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They were the 5A winners in 1990 and the 4A champions in 2010, 2014, and 2017.
Glenwood Springs was hoping to appear in their first-ever finals, but bowed out with a 13-5-1 record. They rebounded in a big way this fall after dropping three of their initial four matches.
(3) Denver North 1, (7) The Classical Academy 0
In the second semifinal clash, terrific defenses made it difficult for each team to break through.
A scoreless opening half, despite a few nifty header attempts and footwork moves by Denver North, continued into the second frame. Initially the Vikings’ Elliot Nottoli appeared to score a goal right before halftime, but he was offsides.
Finally, in the 48th minute he had a terrific cross to Jonathan Gonzalez, whose header touched net.
Then the North (16-1-2) defense, a group that has given up a mere six goals the entire season and outscored Littleton, Silver Creek, and Pueblo Centennial a combined 8-0 in earlier tournament rounds, did the rest in securing the Vikings’ first-ever berth in the boys soccer state finals.
A highly skilled group, North was equally capable using their feet or heads on Wednesday. They have relied plenty on a big batch of non-seniors, which includes leading goal-scorer Nottoli (sophomore), along with Gonzalez (junior), and Abel Torres (freshman).
As for TCA (15-4), the regular contenders had been clutch in the playoffs while overcoming both Holy Family and Skyview with penalty kicks. The Titans earned their first boys soccer crown in 2016 (7-1 over Battle Mountain) and were hoping to lock up their spot in the finals for the seventh time (runner-up in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015).
They also have a promising contingent returning.