MONUMENT — Prior to 2019, Lewis-Palmer boys soccer coach Brian Barkey had only seen his team advance past the first round of the Class 4A boys soccer tournament once.
With a win in over Mesa Ridge last week, Barkey happy to see the Rangers' second trip into the second round under his watch. Tuesday against Pueblo Centennial, he was looking for a first-time achievement.
His boys delivered with a 2-0 win over the Bulldogs. Their reward is a trip to the mountains on Saturday to face No. 1 Battle Mountain to face No. 1 Battle Mountain.
"We challenged them in April," Barkey said. "We asked them what they wanted to talk about in 10 years about this team. And they said that they wanted to make history."
But in order to make history, they had to follow through with that goal on the field. Centennial had been ranked as the No. 1 team in the 4A CHSAANow.com coaches poll at one point, meaning that even as the No. 9 seed, it was common knowledge that the team was capable of coming away with a win.
That's why it was so important for the Rangers (14-3) to strike first. An L-P corner kick in the 21st minute yielded no result, but it was the Bulldogs (12-5) who knocked the ball out past the goal line, giving the Rangers another shot.
And they saw something. The second chance ricocheted off the post and several feet before it shot past Centennial keeper Jesse Chavez and into the net. It was Tanner Kilgore taking the bow when all was said and done.
"we hit it high (on the first one) and the keeper kept punching it," Kilgore said. "So we line drived it lower and then it hit the post and then (we) hit it."
On the opposite end of the field, it was a welcome sight to see for keeper Aidan McGonagle. But he didn't have a lot of time to enjoy it. The Bulldogs pressed offensively and tried to create their own scoring opportunities.
A free kick from about 35 yards out didn’t amount to anything, but a shot shortly after forced McGonagle to dive to his left side, fearful that the shot was good.
It sailed wide right, but it was an indication that Centennial was going to stay aggressive in the offensive end.
But the defenders held their ground and each time the Bulldogs looked to be on the verge of firing off a shot, the Rangers knocked it away or deflected it from its intended target.
"Our back line is a straight brotherhood," McGonagle "We don't fall apart. We always come together to secure a win. Even when our offense isn't coming into play, we always know we have each other's backs."
He quickly noted that after the first goal, he knew the Rangers all but had the game in the bag.
"All we need is one goal," he said. "One goal secures a win."
He believes that can be the case on Saturday as well. Battle Mountain beat Montrose 1-0 earlier in the day so any hope of getting to semifinals at Legacy Stadium in Aurora means a successful trip to Vail has to come first.
But if there is one thing that the Rangers are not, it's afraid of the number one that precedes the Huskies on the bracket.
"I know them very well and it's not a problem," Barkey said. "We're confident."