Glenwood Demons, Carbondale’s Rams poised for state semifinal matchups
Magical seasons continue for the 4A No. 20 Glenwood Springs Demons and 3A No. 4 Roaring Fork Rams boys soccer teams Wednesday with semifinal games on the Front Range, as the Demons travel to Legacy Stadium in Aurora to take on No. 1 Air Academy, while the Rams travel to Englewood High School in Englewood to take on No. 9 Liberty Common.
Glenwood, which finished second in the 4A Western Slope League during the regular season, has knocked off No. 13 Discovery Canyon, No. 5 Durango and No. 28 Kennedy on its run to the 4A state semifinals. Thanks to some impressive upsets, the Demons are the lowest seed remaining in 4A, making for a major underdog story.
That underdog story sees the next chapter come against the best team in the state in 4A, the Air Academy Kadets, who went 16-1-1 on the year, losing to 5A Boulder in a nonleague game back on Aug. 25.
“With this group, I told them midway through the season that we can play with anyone in the state,” said Wayne Smith, Glenwood’s head coach. “We’re in the semifinals in the state, so the competition gets harder, not easier. We can be competitive with them, and if things go right we can beat this team and go through to the state championship game.”
The Kadets certainly won’t be an easy matchup for the Demons. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Kadets have rolled through the state playoffs, topping Canon City 7-0 in the first round, before beating Centaurus in the second round 5-1. In the third round matchup with Skyline, Air Academy won 1-0.
During the regular season, Air Academy scored an average of 3.8 goals per game, while allowing just over 1.1 goals per game. The Kadets recorded seven shutouts total on the year, all of which came in the last nine games of the season.
“We went to Durango and shut out the number four seed, and won that match,” Smith said. “We played a tough game against Kennedy too, and we had the determination to come back and hang on to get the win. We’re not intimidated at all. They [Air Academy] have playoff experience. We feel fortunate to be here, not in the sense of being lucky, but it’s a great experience for our kids. We expect to play a really strong match.”
The Kadets are led by junior forward Thaddeus Dewing, who scored a team-high 24 goals on the season.
“We know that they’re an extremely good program, a lot of size, a lot of organization, and a really strong center forward,” Smith said. “Defensively, they’re very good. We’ve watched some film and looked at their stats like we always do, and it’s going be a difficult match against some big, strong kids who are playing some quality opponents on the season.”
Kickoff between the Demons and Kadets is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Legacy Stadium.
In 3A, the Rams of Roaring Fork are one step away from playing in the state championship, a goal that they set as a group prior to the start of the season. After winning the 3A Western Slope League championship, the Rams have rolled through the 3A state playoffs as the four seed, defeating Valley 5-0, St. Mary’s 4-1, and Salida 1-0, setting up the semifinal matchup with No. 9 Liberty Common at Englewood High School Wednesday evening at 5 p.m.
The Eagles finished the regular season 13-3 (10-0 3A Patriot League), and then proceeded to squeeze out narrow wins in the playoffs, defeating Peak to Peak 1-0, Jefferson Academy 2-0, and Colorado Springs Christian 1-0. Offensively, Liberty Common scored 5.2 goals per game, while allowing 0.911 goals per game during the regular season. Liberty Common also had three players with at least 12 goals, led by senior Evan Walter with 16, senior Michael Yeh with 14, and senior Zach Harker with 12 goals.
The Rams and Eagles kick off at 5 p.m. in the state semifinal matchup.
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