ARVADA — It was a furious, but extremely successful final week of the regular season for Arvada West’s boys soccer team.
The Wildcats — No. 10 in the current CHSAANow.com Class 5A boys soccer rankings and No. 5 in RPI — played three conference games over the span of five days. A-West won all three 5A Jeffco League games by a combined score of 13-1, concluding the run with a 3-1 victory Friday night over rival Ralston Valley at the North Area Athletic Complex.
“For my senior year it feels really great,” A-West senior Judah Johnston said of the undefeated run through conference play. “It’s a clean slate now. We’ve got league done with eight wins. We’ve got to head into playoff full throttle for sure.”
It’s the second straight conference title for the Wildcats (13-2, 8-0 in 5A Jeffco). A-West won league last season, but suffered a loss to Chatfield early during conference play.
“It means a lot to go through Jeffco undefeated,” A-West coach Troy Gette said after the win against Ralston Valley. “To go in (to playoffs) the right way was to put this stamp on the season. In a rivalry game and get it done.”
It wasn’t easy to get past Ralston Valley (7-5-3, 5-2-1). The Mustangs actually held a 1-0 halftime lead on A-West. A header by junior Addison Walker off a free kick found the back of the net in the final minute of the first half.
Ralston Valley was the runner-up in 5A Jeffco could host a first-round game, along with A-West next week to start the state tournament.
Four minutes into the second half, A-West senior Conner Bickford scored the equalizer. Bickford’s free kick got past Ralston Valley goalie Dante Porchetta to tie the game at 1-1 in the 44th minute.
It looked like the game might go overtime, but junior Noah Kanagy’s goal in the 76th minute gave A-West its first lead of the game.
“I was just kind of in the right place at the right time,” Kanagy said of his eventual game-winning goal in the 76th minute. “Caleb (Patterson) did all the work. He got the ball and I just cleaned up. I was kind of tracking the goalie and when the ball popped out to me I knew I just had to get a foot on it.”
Johnston scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season in the 78th minute to put the game away.
“I think the expectations are pretty big,” Johnston said. “I think Troy (Gette) can hold us accountable. I think we are going to go into playoffs knowing what we need to do and we’re going to get it done this year.”
A-West was actually the lone 5A Jeffco team to get out of the first round of the playoffs last season. The Wildcats lost to eventual state champion Arapahoe in the second round.
“It’s pretty cool to be in this position,” Kanagy said. “We have a really good team this year.”
Weather might be one obstacle all playoff-bound teams will face next week. Several inches of snow is expected in the Denver Metro Area starting Saturday until Wednesday next week. The 5A first-round games are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 31.
“It’s going to be ugly,” Gette said of the upcoming weather forecast. “We played Valor in nearly six inches of snow Wednesday. I think we’ll be prepared for anything.”