ENGLEWOOD — A little thing a 16 seed didn't bother Cherry Creek. The Bruins advanced to the Class 5A boys soccer championship game after beating Grandview in the semifinals. Creek will face Fairview who had a thrilling win over Liberty.
The 5A state title game will kick off at 3 p.m. at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs.
(16) Cherry Creek 2, (4) Grandview 0
Rather than getting something in the area of the net, Carsten Jones just went right at it. And he was rewarded with a highlight reel goal - and a backflip to boot- that put No. 16 Cherry Creek, the last team entered on the Class 5A boys soccer state bracket, ahead.
Cyrus Gulati added another goal for the Bruins in the 30th minute and they came away with the 2-0 win over Grandview in the state semifinals. And now the Bruins are playing for a state championship. It's been a remarkable playoff run for the Bruins (9-4 overall) who came away with a 1-0 win over top-seeded Regis Jesuit then followed it up with a 1-0 win over No. 9 Boulder.
By reaching the semifinals, the Bruins had simply come too far to not earn a trip to Weidner Field in Colorado Springs on Saturday.
"It's crazy," Jones said. "We lost like 14, 15 seniors last year so this is an all new lineup. It's just been amazing. No one expected this from us and that's why we're here. We believed in ourselves."
The Wolves (11-2) had a chance to cut into the Cherry Creek lead right before halftime as Knox Quarles was out of position, but the back line did a good job of cleaning the ball away from the net. From that point on, it felt as though Creek was never going to relinquish control of the game.
"We have a mindset that defense wins championships," coach Wilmer Barerra said. "They're so prepared and we're going to fight until the end. Nobody thought we could go this far."
Grandview came out with a more aggressive offensive attack in the second half and had another good look as Dylan Thompson had a wider open shot straight on the net. It sailed over the goal, allowing Creek to maintain a 2-0 lead.
With every chance the Wolves had of scoring, the Bruins defenders were able to clear the ball away from the net, rewarding the effort that the offensive had given to get the two-goal lead. It's the kind of complementary effort that warrants a trip to the state championship game.
"We knew that they were going to press a lot," Barerra said. "We knew that by doing that, they were going to give us that space up front. We were patient and that's how we got those goals."
The loss is just the second of the season for Grandview and both came against the Bruins. Back in the regular season meeting on March 23, Cherry Creek won 3-1 with Gulati scoring two goals in the effort.
This is the first trip to the state championship game since 2010 for Cherry Creek. The Bruins beat Mountain Vista 1-0 to claim the 5A title. The Bruins are 6-1 all-time in state championship games dating back to their first appearance in 1975.
(2) Fairview 2, (3) Liberty 1
Job Meuleman's golden goal will be remembered for a long time. He buried a shot just over two minutes into overtime to give Fairview a 2-1 win over Liberty and a trip to a boys soccer state title game for the first time since 1984.
Neither Shane Williams or Theo Koch had any interest in letting a goal into the net. The Liberty and Fairview keepers put together solid first half performances. It was very much a chess match between the two undefeated teams in the first 40 minutes.
A corner attempt from Fairview late in the first half nearly broke the tie as Louis Kehoe gathered the ball right in front of the net. His shot sailed high, keeping the game scoreless. In the closing seconds of the half, Williams made a clutch save to fend off a late Liberty attack.
The Lancers struck early in the second half as Chase Compton broke the scoreless tie with a header off a throw in. Jake Milanski quickly answered for Fairview, tying the game up at a goal apiece.
Neither team could break the tie before time expired in regulation and the two teams went into extra time. It was just over two minutes into the extra period when Sebastien Mazur got behind the Liberty defense and found Meuleman for the goal.
This is Fairview's second state championship game appearance. The Knights lost to Northglenn 2-1 back in 1984.