No. 2 Golden heading to 4A boys soccer state semifinals

ARVADA — It will go down in Golden High School history as the most significant direct free kick by the Demons’ boys soccer program.

“I’m emotional right now. I think everyone is,” Golden senior Jesse Denk said minutes after the Demons defeated Centaurus 2-1 at the North Area Athletic Complex to send Golden to the Class 4A state semifinals. “This is awesome for us. This is amazing. It’s a crazy experience.”

Golden senior Zach Chapman (15) attempts to direct a header on goal during the Class 4A state quarterfinal game Saturday at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The eventual game-winning goal in the 76th minute all started with a direct free kick taken by Denk. Golden seniors Nate Thompson and Sam Markovich both were able to flick headers toward the Warriors’ goal after Denk’s long free kick he took from the other side of midfield.

“I always see good chances off of those free kicks when Sam Markovich is on the other side of them,” said Denk, who had to drive the kick through a strong north headwind. “There are always some deflections in the box. There is never a good clear with those type of balls. You never know what is going to happen.”

After the flicks by Thompson and Markovich, Centaurus senior Jackson Osborne was able to get a foot on the ball and pop it straight up.

However, Golden senior Zach Chapman was able to get position on Osborne and tap the ball back to Markovich. The Class 4A Jeffco League MVP fired a shot past Centaurus goalie Parker Sanchez and the celebration begun for the Demons.

“All season I’ve been looking for the dangerous balls like that,” Markovich said. “That time I was actually going in with the mindset of getting a flick to one of my teammates. I was glad I able to put it away.”

Golden senior Christian Sekavec, left, races down the field with Centaurus junior Luke Griswold during the first half Saturday afternoon at the NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

No. 2 seed Golden (16-1-1 record) now heads to Legacy Stadium in Aurora for the 4A semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 13. The Demons face the winner of No. 11 Denver North and No. 2 Skyview, who were scheduled for a 2 p.m. start Saturday afternoon at Skyview High School.

“We are ready for it,” Markovich said heading to Legacy Stadium. “We’re not really worried about who we’ve got yet. Whoever it is we’ll come out and play just as hard, and hopefully come out with the W.”

No. 26 Centaurus (10-7-1) was the lowest seed to advance to the quarterfinals. The Warriors grabbed upset victories over No. 7 Holy Family and No. 10 Discovery Canyon to get a shot at the No. 2 Demons on Saturday afternoon.

“They (Centaurus) is a good team. My goodness, you know why they knocked off two top-10 seeds,” Golden coach Larry Harding said. “These boys (Demons) won’t be denied. It’s fantastic. I’m proud of these boys.”

Centaurus broke a scoreless tie in the 59th minute in the second half. Senior Christian Nunez headed a long direct free kick pass a diving Golden goalie DJ Koury to give the Warriors the 1-0 lead.

Centaurus senior Jesus Garcia (7) is able to poke the ball away from Golden senior Sam Markovich (17) during the first half Saturday afternoon at NAAC. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Golden quickly answered a minute later with the equalizer. Senior Ian Persky fired a shot off a rebound into the back of the net in the 60th minute to tie things up 1-1.

“If you don’t get it right away doubt starts to creep in,” Harding said of the importance of the Demons getting the equalizer a minute after Centaurus took the lead. “It can get away from you quick.”

Harding pointed to Golden’s lone loss this season as a big turning point for the Demons. Alameda International defeated Golden 4-2 back on Sept. 3 at NAAC. The Demons have gone 15-0-1 since that early season loss.

“They lost that game and decided they weren’t going to lose another game,” Harding said.

The Demons have never won a boys soccer state title, but are now just two wins away from claiming a championship. Golden as actually never played in a boys soccer state title game since the Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned boys soccer in 1975.

Golden senior Ian Persky (12) scored in the 60th minute to tie the Demons 1-1 with Centaurus in the second half. Golden scored the eventual game-winning goal by senior Sam Markovich in the 76th minute to advance the Demons to the Class 4A state semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Legacy Stadium in Aurora. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)