ARVADA — Arvada West and Ralston Valley boys soccer programs have been here before — head-to-head with the Class 5A Jeffco League title on the line.
In a must-win situation for Ralston Valley’s postseason and conference championship hopes, …
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In a must-win situation for Ralston Valley’s postseason and conference championship hopes, the Mustangs came through with a 4-1 victory over rival A-West (10-5, 6-1 in 5A Jeffco) on Oct. 17 at the North Area Athletic Complex.
“It was 100 percent a must-win for us,” Ralston Valley coach Jamie Scarcliff said. “It was a big game for us, but they preformed. We got some awesome goals and they worked really hard together.”
Ralston Valley (8-7, 6-1) defeated Columbine 9-1 in its conference finale Oct. 19 at Lakewood Memorial Field to officially repeat as 5A Jeffco League champions. The Mustangs closed out their regular season Oct. 20 with a 6-1 win over Evergreen to extend their winning streak to five heading into the 5A playoffs.
No. 29 Ralston Valley and No. 32 A-West were slotted into automatic berths for the 32-team state tournament after the Mustangs and Wildcats finished as the top two teams in 5A Jeffco. Lakewood (10-4-1, 5-1-1) finish third, but the Tigers were seeded No. 20 because they had a much higher RPI rating then Ralston Valley and A-West.
All three 5A Jeffco state qualifiers will be on the road for first-round games Thursday, Oct. 26. Lakewood faces No. 13 Fairview in Boulder. Ralston Valley also heads to Boulder to face the No. 4 Boulder Panthers. A-West stays closer to home, but has to face No. 1 Denver East.
“Five losses in the very beginning doesn’t look great, but we have definitely turned it around, Ralston Valley senior Kyle Stern said.
Sterns gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead at the 11-minute mark in the first half against A-West. The Mustangs extended the lead when senior Nick Nowlen knocked in a corner kick in the 35th minute.
The Mustangs pushed their lead to 3-0 six minutes into the second half when Miller put one into the back of the net.
“Coming out in the second half with a 2-0 lead we knew the next goal would be a momentum shift,” said Ralston Valley junior Mason Miller, who scored the game-winning goal a year ago against A-West. “We knew we had to get it.”
Senior Ben Gelman put Ralston Valley up 4-0 in the 77th minute. A-West did prevent the shutout with A-West senior Steven Hoffman scoring in the final minute to make the final score 4-1.
“It was hard starting off the season the way we did. We rallied as a team knowing at the end of the year we would play our biggest rival A-West,” Miller said. “Wins before this game made it easy to come in here with confidence.”
A year ago, Ralston Valley defeated rival A-West 2-1 in the league finale for both teams. The Mustangs’ victory in what was the winner-take-all situation for the conference title prevented the Wildcats from winning their fifth league title in six years.
It’s been a season of streaks for A-West. The Wildcats opened the season with a 4-game winning streak, but preceded to drop four straight non-league games before getting into conference play. A-West reeled off six consecutive conference wins over the pasts five weeks before losing to Ralston Valley.
“We want to be hitting our peak at the end of the season,” Miller said. “We feel like that is where we are going. That’s what we planned and that’s what working out.”
Dennis Pleuss is a communication specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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