ARVADA — Arvada West’s boys soccer team is back in familiar territory.
A 3-1 victory over Gateway on a bitterly cold late Friday afternoon at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada sent the No. 4-seeded Wildcats into the second round of the Class 5A state tournament for the second straight season.
Last season, A-West defeated Poudre 2-1 in overtime in its playoff opener. The Wildcats’ season came to an end with a 1-0 second-round loss to eventual state champion Arapahoe.
“I’m very excited,” Johnston said of getting to host No. 13 Rocky Mountain back at NAAC on Wednesday, Nov. 6. “I know a lot of teams have struggled with them. It will be a very good game for sure.”
The Lobos defeated No. 20 Aurora Central in overtime with a 2-1 victory late Friday afternoon in Fort Collins. A-West and Rocky Mountain actually faced each other in an early season non-league game. The Wildcats took a 4-1 victory.
“We played them earlier this season, but both of our teams are different at this point in the season,” A-West coach Troy Gette said. “I think we’re all right.”
Arvada West’s leading scorer — Johnston — was key in the Wildcats advancing to the second round. He scored his 16th and 17th goals on the season in the opening half against No. 29 Gateway.
Johnston fired a shot past Gateway goalie Jesus Ascencio with an Olympian defender hanging on him in the 7th minute.
A-West (14-2 record) extended its lead to 2-0 in the 15th minute after a centering pass from senior Zack Marcolina found Johnston in front of the net for an easy tap-in goal.
Things did get a little dicey in the final 10 minutes of the first half. First, Johnston went down with an injury in the 31st minute of the first half.
“A kid kicked my foot just before I was about to plant,” Johnston said of the injury that had him miss the final minutes of the first half. “I pretty much stepped on the side of my foot and rolled my ankle. At first I had a little doubt if I would come back in, but after getting it taped up and the trainer clearing me after seeing me run. It felt pretty good running on it.
With Johnston on the bench, Gateway (10-6) got back into the mix with a late first-half goal by senior Winston Franco del Cid in the 34th minute to make it a 2-1 game at halftime.
A-West had several scoring opportunities in the second half, but couldn’t find the back of the net until the 76th minute. Sophomore Caleb Patterson’s goal sealed the victory.
“Of course it was good,” Gette said of Patterson’s late goal. “In a cold and sloppy game with a bad bounce anything can happen. I did feel pretty comfortable the whole game.”
Junior goalie Jacoby Landskov was sold in net for the final 40 minutes to preserve the victory and shut out Gateway in the second half.
“He (Landskov) has grown into the roll very well,” Gette said of the first-year starting goalie for the Wildcats. “I think he gets better every game. I think the boys and coaching staff has a ton of confidence in him.”
Gette added that he felt A-West could have put several more into the back of the net. Johnston agreed.
“No excuses,” Johnston said about miss firing on a few scoring chances himself that prevented him from getting his first hat-trick of the season. “It was disappointing, but in the end we won. That’s all that matters.”