Roaring Fork set to host first three rounds of soccer state playoffs
After capping off a 12-1-1 season (6-1 3A Western Slope League) that ended in a league championship for the first time in five years, the Roaring Fork Rams are set to host the first three rounds of the 3A Colorado High School Activities Association’s state playoffs, beginning Thursday, Oct. 25, should the Rams win their opening-round matchup.
Roaring Fork earned a four seed, meaning they’ll host the No. 29 Valley Vikings at 5 p.m. The Vikings come into the first round matchup with a record of 9-4-2 (6-3-1 3A Patriot League), placing tied for second in the 3A Patriot League. The Vikings are 3-3 on the road, while the Rams are 6-0-1 at home in Carbondale.
“We’re very pleased with where we are in the bracket,” said Nick Forbes, Roaring Fork’s head coach. “This is the highest seed we’ve ever had here as long as I’ve been the coach, so that’s pretty special. It’s been a great season so far, and the playoffs should be a great opportunity for us to compete against some of the best teams in the state, while hopefully drumming up some interest in our community.”
On the field, Valley averages just under 2 goals per game, while the Rams sit right around 3.5 goals a game. For the Vikings, Edgar Perez leads Valley with nine goals this season, while Misael Serrano had a team-high eight assists on the year. Serrano also had eight goals on the year, sitting just one behind Perez for the team lead. Combined, Perez and Serrano accounted for 63 percent of Valley’s goals on the year.
For Roaring Fork, Aidan Sloan led the Rams with 17 goals and eight assists, finishing with a team-high 42 points. Behind Sloan, junior Joe Salinas and sophomore Gustavo Amador scored six goals each, while sophomore Alvin Garcia had six assists. Amador, junior Lucas Schramer and senior Ronald Clemente had five assists each, making for a balanced scoring group for Roaring Fork.
The winner of Thursday’s matchup will take on the winner of No. 13 St. Mary’s and No. 20 Lutheran.
“We just have to come out fast and play our game,” Forbes said. “We’re very capable of coming out and matching any team. We just have to show up and play our best consistently. The attitude in practice all week has been spot on, and with our talent and depth, we’re going to surprise some teams because people don’t really know who we are, even though we’re top four.”
Aside from the Rams in 3A, the Coal Ridge Titans (8-6-1, 4-3 3A WSL) open up the 3A state playoffs as the No. 17 seed. The Titans will travel to UCCS Mountain Lion Stadium Thursday at 4 p.m. to take on the Colorado Springs Christian Lions (8-5-2, 4-3-1 3A Tri-Peaks League). The Lions finished fifth in the Tri-Peaks League, while the Titans finished third in the Western Slope League.
“The experiences this year that we’ve had of traveling have really helped,” said Michael Mikalakis, Coal Ridge’s head coach. “We’ve already gone to Kent and Mullen, so we’ve had really long road trips, and that’s helped us prepare. That’s one of the reason’s I do that with the schedule. I want to go and get longer trips because I know at some point in the postseason we’ll have to travel. I want the kids to know what it’s like to get off the bus after four hours and know how to get ready to go.”
The Lions scored an average of 3.66 goals per game, with nearly two of those goals coming in the first half. Colorado Springs Christian starts fast, which will force the Titans to come out of the gates on their game. Through 15 games, Coal Ridge averages 2.66 goals per game, with one goal coming in the first half on average.
The Titans are led by junior Ivan Gallardo, who scored 17 goals on the season, while senior Gustavo Archila dished out nine assists. Ethan Campagna scored 15 goals on the year for the Lions, while Noah Banderas led CSC with seven assists.
“They’re very similar to us,” Mikalakis said. “Record wise and common opponent wise, they’re very similar. I’m never one that goes into any game that we play focused on the other team. I want our kids to go out and play the game that we know how to play. I don’t want them going out and changing how they play for one opponent in one game.”
The winner of the Titans-Lions matchup will take on the winner of No. 1 Atlas Preparatory School-No. 32 Alamosa in the second round. Atlas went 14-0-1 on the year, scoring nearly five goals per game.
In 4A, the Glenwood Springs Demons (10-4-1, 9-2-1 4A WSL) are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when the Demons lost to Rocky Canyon 2-1.
The Demons earned a No. 20 seed after finishing second in the 4A Western Slope League, and will travel to D-20 Stadium in Colorado Springs to take on the No. 13 Discovery Canyon Thunder (11-4, 4-3 5A/4A Tri-Peaks League) at 5 p.m. today.
“You can’t always end up exactly where you want, but I’ve always maintained that you’re in pretty good shape if you’re somewhere in the 20s or so because you’ll match up with teams you’re similar with,” said Wayne Smith, Glenwood’s head coach. “We’re happy to be in the tournament, and happy to be where we are.”
The Thunder average 3.3 goals per game, and allowed just over one goal per game on the season. Sophomore Nathan Van Keulen led the Thunder with 11 goals on the year, while senior Forrest Van Iwaarden and junior Kevin Barone scored nine goals each. Barone led the Thunder with 11 assists, while sophomore Connor Clancy had eight assists on the year.
For Glenwood, junior German Alvarado led the Demons with 14 goals, while senior Leo Mireles scored 13, helping the Demons average 4.4 goals per game. Mireles added 17 assists on the year. Junior goalkeeper Carlos Guardado recorded five shutouts on the year for the Demons.
“We’ve looked at their statistics and some of their clips; they’re a pretty strong team that’s played some strong opponents this season,” Smith said. “They have a solid defense and solid keeper, and have some strong players up front. On paper, we should match up pretty well. It should be a good match.”
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