ARVADA — After Arvada West soccer lost a dozen seniors to graduation from last year’s team, most thought its chances to repeat as league champions were lost too.
The team’s few seniors not only heard they had no chance at a 5A Jeffco title but also heard they weren’t supposed to be as good as last year’s team.
One of those seniors is team captain Cruz Marquez, who on Wednesday at North Area Athletic Complex scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Ralston Valley to win a third consecutive league title.
“All we heard was that we lost so much, and we weren’t going to be as good as last year’s team,” Marquez said. “We aren’t going to be hearing that anymore.”
In a game that seemed destined for overtime both teams were stuck at 0-0 for over 70 minutes of game action.
However, destiny changed with exactly 10:23 left in the game. Marquez, desperate to make something happen for his teammates, make a move on a defender just outside of Ralston Valley’s box.
Marquez was pulled down to the ground by a frustrated defender and was awarded a free kick.
The kick was from straight away midfield and even though the percentages to score from that spot were slim, Marquez ripped a ball low left through a wall of defenders and right past sprawled out Ralston Valley junior goaltender Tony Celano.
“I thought I could have caught it a little harder but it turned out out to be just enough,” Marquez said. “I’m a captain. I felt it was my job to make something happen.”
The victory clinches a third straight 5A Jeffco title for an A-West team (12-3, 7-1) that was supposed to finish second this season to Ralston Valley.
The Mustangs (10-4-1, 5-3) on the other hand are still recognized as a really good team. Coach Kyle Kamazi has called this team one of Ralston Valley’s best and they still have a chance to prove that at the 5A CHSAA Boys State Soccer Championships starting Thursday.
No. 16 Ralston Valley will host No. 17 Fort Collins Thursday.
A-West was dubbed a No. 11 seed and will host No. 22 Liberty on Thursday.