Demons booted from playoffs on late penalty kick
Post Independent correspondent
The Standley Lake Gators, hailing from Denver’s 4A Jefferson County League, scored on a penalty kick with 2:35 left in regulation time to move on to the second round of the state soccer playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Glenwood Springs Demons on Saturday afternoon at Stubler Memorial Field.
The game-winning kick came off the foot of Standley Lake junior Kellen Bundgaard following a call that went against Demon senior goalkeeper Carlos Guardado for coming out of the goalie box and bumping a Gator forward. Bundgaard chipped the ball into the right side of the north goal, essentially sealing Glenwood’s fate and ending a very successful season under head coach Wayne Smith.
“It was a big call at that point and something we just have to live with,” Smith said following the game.
Playing on a spaghetti-like slippery field, it was the Demons who got on the scoreboard first when junior Justin Garces took a shot on goal that was initially deflected by Gator keeper David Crosby, but then ultimately — and accidentally — kicked into the goal by a Standley Lake player who was trying to keep the ball out of harm’s way.
With Glenwood nursing the slight 1-0 halftime advantage, the two teams returned from intermission with sights set on continuing their postseason with a playoff victory.
Glenwood had a near miss with 30:31 showing on the clock when Garces again had a scoring opportunity on a throw in by senior Jack Reinhold, but the Demon’s shot hit the left side of the post on the south goal, and the home team came away empty handed.
Guardardo thwarted a prime Gator scoring opportunity at the 18:14 mark of play when the rangy senior reached high into the air to grab a Standley Lake shot to help preserve Glenwood’s narrow lead.
Substituting liberally in the second half of play, Standley Lake continued to attack and put pressure on the back line of the Demon defense. The Gators finally found the net, breaking their scoring draught, when a shot by the visitors deflected off of Gurardado and onto the foot of Standley Lake senior Titus Von, who promptly pushed the rebound into the north goal as 13:42 remained in the game.
With the game tied at 1-1 and the momentum swing clearly in favor of the boys from the Front Range, Demon senior Mitchell Burt did his best to keep his team’s hopes alive by breaking up a late Gator scoring attempt as the tension began to mount on both sides of the field.
Glenwood’s season would then come to a heartbreaking end moments later when the penalty kick by Bundgaard sent the Gators into the second round of the state playoffs next week versus Silver Creek.
Coach Smith, who is stepping down from guiding the soccer Demons, reflected on the disappointment of coming up just short on the big stage of the playoffs.
“They were able to put pressure on us all day. Hats off to them, though. They played with high energy and disrupted our play,” Smith said. “We all wish it were a different result, but these kids have been a pleasure to coach.”
Playing their final game for the Demons were Burt, Guardado, Reinhold, Aiden Partch, Edwin Francia, German Alvarado, Eric Vargas, Angel Bernal, and Raul Vargas.
“This group of guys have played together for a long time,” Burt said. “It’s great to have made the playoffs and to play with all of these guys.”
The Demons end the season with a 10-3-3 record.
Anne Swanson contributed to this story.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.