LAKEWOOD — It has been a long time coming for Standley Lake’s boys soccer program.
The Gators — No. 10 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 4A boys soccer rankings — hadn’t won a conference title since 1990. That drought ended Tuesday night at Lakewood Memorial Field.
“I kind of had a feeling,” Standley Lake coach John Cole said of the Gators’ run to history. “Those guys are the hardest working men in show business right now. I’ve been fortunate to line them up and push them out.”
Standley Lake (8-1, 7-0 in 4A Jeffco League) wrapped up the elusive conference title with a 1-0 victory over D’Evelyn. Standley Lake senior Kellan Bundgaard put in the eventual game-winning goal in the 45th minute.
“There is no winning without believing,” Bundgaard said. “I think every single person on this team contributed. Everyone wanted this.”
The Gators have one conference game remaining against Alameda International, but there is no possible scenario where Golden or Evergreen could catch Standley Lake.
“It feels amazing. Everyone on this team feels like my best friend,” Standley Lake senior goalie David Crosbey said moments after the Gators were handed the league championship plaque. “This isn’t just a league title. It’s a league title with the boys.”
The Gators have reeled off eight straight wins after an opening-season, non-league loss to Arvada West. The condensed season hasn’t effected Standley Lake. In fact, the Gators have won six games in eight days from April 6 to April 13.
Standley Lake has won four 1-goal games during the 8-game winning streak. D’Evelyn (2-4-2, 2-4-2) wasn’t about to just hand the Gators the league title. The Jaguars have been in every game they have played this season and Tuesday night was the same story.
The game was scoreless though the first half until Bundgaard found the back of the net five minutes into the second half.
“Kellan’s goal was huge. It was very big,” Crosbey said. “I expect nothing less from Kellan. He always pulls through, but D’Evelyn brought it to us tonight.”
Standley Lake junior Seth White set up the game-winning goal making a run deep toward the end-line before slipping a pass to Bundgaard. White was actually taken down hard by D’Evelyn senior Caulin Martinez in the first half. Both Martinez and White received yellow cards for the incident before halftime.
“We knew first team to put in a goal was going to win it,” Bundgaard said. “Seth had an interesting first half when it got a little heated. He carried through and put it to me for my 13th on the season, lucky 13.”
The lone goal was all the Gators needed. Standley Lake’s defense held up and Crosbey managed his sixth shutout victory of the season.
“My heart was beating,” Crosbey said of the couple of set pieces by the Jaguars that nearly tied the game late. “This was our league title on the line.”
Cole plans on giving some of his key varsity players some rest heading into the postseason that begins next week. The Gators close out their regular season against Alameda at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the North Area Athletic Complex.
“We want to get a good week of rest in before state (tournament),” Cole said. “These guys are very driven to go as far as they can at state. This is the year to do it. It’s a crazy COVID year.”
The 4A state will be a 16-team tournament. Standley Lake actually had a Cinderella run to the 4A state Final 4 in 2015. The Gators were the No. 11 seed, but knocked off No. 6 Niwot and No. 3 Battle Mountain before losing to No. 2 The Classical Academy in the semifinals.
“I think our goal is to go all the way,” Crosbey said. “We have a lot of ambitious people on this team. Our goal is to win state.”
Standley Lake is likely to host a first-round game Wednesday, April 21, at the NAAC if they receive a top-8 seed.
“We want to finish in a top-8 spot with a home game to start playoffs,” Bundgaard said. “We want to pack the NAAC.”