No. 4 Roaring Fork soccer dominates in 5-0 win over No. 29 Valley to open 3A playoffs |

No. 4 Roaring Fork soccer dominates in 5-0 win over No. 29 Valley to open 3A playoffs

Balanced scoring throughout the lineup and shutdown defense from a senior-laden back line led the No. 4 Roaring Fork Rams to a dominant 5-0 win Thursday evening in Carbondale over the No. 29 Valley Vikings to open the 3A Colorado High School Activities Association’s state playoffs.

Roaring Fork, which last played a week ago, winning the 3A Western Slope League championship in thrilling fashion, came out fast and physical against the Vikings, striking early and often to put the visitors away quickly in front of a packed house at Roaring Fork Middle School.

“I still don’t believe we played our best game yet, but there were certainly flashes of what we can be at our best tonight,” said Nick Forbes, Roaring Fork’s head coach.

Those flashes started early as senior forward Aidan Sloan — the hero in last Thursday’s league championship win over Coal Ridge — nearly put the Rams on the board with another header. This time though, the senior’s try slid outside of the far right post early in the match. It seemed to kick-start the Roaring Fork attack, though, as just under 18 minutes into the game junior Dylan Webster got his right foot on a pass into the box by senior Liam Laird, redirecting the ball past Valley senior goalkeeper Alexis Bonilla, giving the Rams an early 1-0 lead at home.

Webster’s redirect opened the floodgates for the Rams as senior Max Candela slotted home a free kick four minutes later, catching the Vikings napping to make it 2-0.

Five minutes after Candela’s free kick, sophomore Alvin Garcia made it 3-0, slipping behind the Valley defense on a corner kick, where Sloan headed the ball down to Garcia, who redirected it past Bonilla, putting the game well out of reach midway through the first half.

“I thought we came out and played pretty relaxed, which is how we wanted to,” senior Joe Salinas said. “We played through our striker, which is what we’ve always done, and built up chances.”

Holding a 3-0 lead, the Rams didn’t take their foot off the gas late in the first half as sophomore Gustavo Amador had a great chance in the box, firing a strike on net that Bonilla punched away. Moments after Amador’s chance, Laird made a great run down the right wing, cutting into the box to beat two defenders, but his shot missed just high over the crossbar, keeping the game at 3-0. Salinas closed the half with a strong strike from 30 yards out that Bonilla got a hand on, tipping the shot wide to send the two teams into the half with Roaring Fork well in control at 3-0.

Coming out of the break with the game in hand, the Rams stayed hot as Laird — on nearly an identical run through much of the Valley back line — slipped home a shot 6:30 into the second half, making it a 4-0 game.

“I kind of started poking around early in the game, and then on that first run I saw I had a little more space than I should have had,” Laird said. “I tried to take that space more, and I found a little path. Luckily, the ball fell the right way. and I was able to put it into the back of the net.”

Looking to put the game on ice, the Rams turned to a number of backups off the bench to close out the game against the Vikings. Seniors Will Rose, Remy Grimm, David Lucas and Emanuel Madrigal, as well as junior Aidan Foote helped the Rams keep up their strong level of play down the stretch before Webster, on a scramble in the box, punched home his second goal of the night — and Roaring Fork’s fifth and final tally — capping off the impressive 5-0 win.

“It’s nice to have a number of guys step up offensively, especially in the playoffs,” Forbes said. “From a coaching perspective, that’s what you want. You need at least four or five people to show up every game, and it’s good when you have that varied approach. That balance says a lot about our coaching staff because we’ve set them up to succeed, as well as a lot about the boys and how good they are. It’s a ‘we’ not an ‘I’ thing with this group. It’s fun to watch.”

With the win, the Rams advance to the second round of the 3A state playoffs.

The Rams will take on No. 13 St. Mary’s in the second round, which defeated No. 20 Lutheran Thursday night in double overtime.

The Pirates finished the regular season 9-4-2, going 5-2-1 in the 3A Tri-Peaks League.

Roaring Fork will host the second-round matchup next Tuesday at Carbondale Middle School. Admission is $7 for adults, and $5 for students/children. Only official CHSAA passes will be accepted at the gates.

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