2A boys soccer: No. 10 Ridgway and No. 4 Dawson to meet for state title

Fountain Valley Ridgway boys soccer semifinals

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

ENGLEWOOD — The scariest thing a goalkeeper can see on a Saturday afternoon is Ridgway's Rob Beserra dribbling through defenders and making his way into open space.

The lesson there: If he gets an open shot, he's not going to miss.

In the Class 2A boys soccer semifinals, he had two open shots and connected on both of them to help the Demons beat Fountain Valley 5-1 and advance to next week's state championship match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

"I was feeling confident," Beserra said. "I like playing on turf and it was a good finish."

He scored his first goal in the eighth minute after cutting through the Fountain Valley defense and drawing keeper Jacob Thomassen to the near corner of the net. He ripped his shot to the back right corner to get the Demons (11-3-3 overall) on the board.

The Danes (13-4) answered just minutes later on a scrum right in front of the net on a corner kick. With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, Beserra again navigated through the Danes' defenders and into open space. His shot was on point again and turned out to be the game winner.

But that doesn't mean Ridgway was done. Road warriors all tournament, the Demons kept attacking in the second half and scored three more goals. One of which came from Ruben Kornbluh, the son of coach Jon Kornbluh.

"The story on that is in the hotel room last night he was sick as a dog," Coach Kornbluh said. "He didn't think he'd be able to get out of bed, let alone make it on the pitch. He's also coming off knee surgery in May, so this was his best game in 12 months."

Both Beserra and Coach Kornbluh acknowledged that the Demons thrive when playing on the road. The good news on that front is that they'll have to travel just one more time and that will be next week when they take the field with the 2A state title on the line.

If they continue to play the way they have all tournament, they believe they can bring a championship trophy home with them on next week's long bus ride home.

"Anytime we've stepped on the field we've been the better team," Kornbluh said. "We play the right way, we know how to possess, we know how to attack. We've just made it about playing the right way."

Dawson Denver Christian boys soccer

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

(4) Dawson 3, (9) Denver Christian 2

A two goal lead is often said to be the most dangerous, and that proved to be the case in the second 2A boys soccer semifinal match.

After neither team was able to convert on numerous chances throughout the day, Dawson appeared to a state championship appearance wrapped up with a 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of regulation.

But the game was just beginning. Two late goals from Denver Christian put the game into overtime before the Mustangs came away with a win and a berth in next week's 2A state championship game.

Jonas Ricke scored the golden goal with a minute left in the first overtime period to give Dawson the 3-2 win.

Sam Freedman scored the game's first goal in the 49th minute to keep the Mustangs' season alive.

It was anything but the dominant performance that Ridgway saw in the day's first game. 

The best look for the Thunder (10-7-1)  came in the first half came off a free kick from Josh Schlernitzauer. His shot was just out of reach of Dawson keeper Tony Aieta's hand, but slammed off the post, keeping the game scoreless.

Dawson had a look of its own six minutes later on a loss ball in front of the net, but keeper Max Atwood was able to knock it away and give his back line a few precious seconds to get composed. 

Schlernitzauer had a second free kick chance in the 36th minute, but that attempt sailed high. 

The Mustangs (12-3-2) pressed at the start of the second half and ripped off a couple of early shots, but much like the first half, to no avail.

In the 49th minute, Nick Knobel made a break down the right side of the field and had a look at the net, but Atwood again came up big with the save.

The stalemate was finally broken off a Rio Sueyoshi free kick. The loose ball bounced around in front of the net before Isenhart got it by Atwood to put the Mustangs up 1-0.

Knobel added a second goal in the 65th minute to add some breathing room.

But it wasn't enough.

With just under three minutes to play, Zach Johnson sent a booming ball toward the net to get the Thunder on the board. With time and ideas running out, Johnson figured what worked once might just work twice.

He sent a second ball in the direction of the cross bar. It was low enough to sneak under and high enough that Aieta couldn't get a hand on it. In the final minute of play, Denver Christian suddenly had new life.

But Ricke ended things 14 minutes into the first overtime period. The Mustangs will face Ridgway at 1 p.m. next Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.