No. 20 Glenwood Springs tops No. 28 Kennedy, 5-4, in thriller
Post Independent contributor
Nursing a 5-2 lead early in the second half of play, the Glenwood Springs Demons soccer team held off a furious late charge by the visiting John F. Kennedy Commanders, to post a narrow 5-4 win in the 4A state soccer quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Stubler Memorial Field.
Kennedy wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard first, as junior Arye-el Ramos Martinez gobbled up a centering pass and outmaneuvered a couple of Demon defenders in front of the south goal to give the Commanders a 1-0 advantage with just 17 seconds of elapsed time on the game clock.
Glenwood responded in a hurry and they responded in a big way.
Looking a bit like soccer’s version of the Golden State Warriors, the Demons scored three fast-breaking goals during a seven-minute span to take a 3-1 advantage on their home turf.
“I’m proud of the way the guys responded early on,” said Wayne Smith, Glenwood’s head coach. “We moved the ball really well at that point and we pride ourselves on ball control.”
The Demon onslaught started with junior forward German Alvarado scoring near the net in front of a jumble of Kennedy onlookers at the 37:23 mark of the half. Alvarado’s goal tied the game up at 1-1, but Glenwood wasn’t anywhere near being finished in the scoring department.
Next up for the Demons was midfielder Sebastian Torres, who gave his team a 2-1 lead on a midrange shot from the center of the field. Sophomore Justin Garces then got into the act for Glenwood with a left-footed rope that eased its way past Kennedy goalkeeper Carlos Casillas into the back corner of the netting for a 3-1 lead. Demon junior goalie Carlos Guardado stopped a close Kennedy header near the net as the half was concluding to preserve Glenwood’s two-goal lead at intermission.
When the teams took the field for the second half, the Commanders made things interesting when Ramos Martinez got his second score of the day at the 33:44 juncture of play by slipping past Glenwood’s defensive backline to slide a shot past Guardado, making it 3-2 in favor of the Demons.
Like a carbon copy of the game’s beginning, Glenwood responded in lighting-quick fashion. On a nice assist from Garces, Torres garnered his second goal of the game to make it 4-2 Demons. Garces got another assist just moments later when he centered a perfect pass to a streaking Alvarado who easily darted a shot into the south goal for a 5-2 Glenwood lead.
The Demons narrowly missed adding to their big advantage when Garces received a centering pass from junior defender Jack Reinhold and smacked a high shot that was cradled into the high-reaching arms of Casillas, ending the Glenwood scoring run for the afternoon.
With 20:13 left to play, the Commanders made it 5-3 following a penalty kick by senior Kevin Cuellar. Another Kennedy goal at 13:39 by senior Aymaro Vargas, who narrowly slipped the ball by a diving Guardado, made it 5-4.
With plenty of time left on the clock, the Demon fans had become edgy, as had the Demon players dressed in red and black.
A game, and possible season-saving moment for Glenwood came with 5:27 left to play when Demon keeper Guardado turned away two in-close Kennedy shots that resulted in a mad scramble in front of the net. Thankfully for the Demons, it was Guardado standing near the net when the dust had settled, with both arms wrapped around the ball like it was his first-born.
Happy and relieved following the game, Coach Smith heaped praise on his charges, and deservedly so.
“It’s nice to keep the season going. This is a good team and they are really close,” said Smith. “They always break the huddle by saying ‘Family’.”
For Glenwood (13-4-1) the state semi-finals await on Nov. 7 at Aurora’s Legacy Stadium against either the #1 ranked Air Academy Kadets, or the #9 Skyline Falcons.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.