AURORA — A clean slate to start the Class 5A boys soccer state tournament is exactly what Arvada West needed. A-West was trending in the wrong direction finishing out the regular season. The …
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AURORA — A clean slate to start the Class 5A boys soccer state tournament is exactly what Arvada West needed.
A-West was trending in the wrong direction finishing out the regular season. The Wildcats went 0-1-2 — along with a “no contest” against rival Ralston Valley from a game was postponed twice and eventually canceled because of snowstorms — in their last two weeks of the regular season.
However, the No. 12-seeded Wildcats turned things around in the opening round of the state tournament Thursday, April 23, at No. 5 Rangeview. A-West scored a 2-1 upset victory against the 5A EMAC champions to advance to the 5A state quarterfinals Saturday, April 24.
“I think the boys overcame,” A-West coach Troy Gette said. “They worked hard through the midfield and our defense has been solid all season. They stuck together.”
Not only was A-West (7-2-2 record) looking for its first win since April 6 to open the state playoffs, the Wildcats were without the services of starting goalie Jacob Landskov and senior Kyler Tate, one of the top players in 5A Jeffco.
“We really had a lot of momentum going into the season. We won those first six games to carry that momentum. After Kyler left and we had some injuries we slowed down a bit,” A-West senior captain Noah Kanagy said. “I think this game is the turning point to getting back that momentum.”
It looked liked A-West and Rangeview were headed to overtime tied 1-1 in the final minutes of regular-time at Rangeview High School. Sophomore Yavani Tamayo had other ideas.
“I kept looking at the time. I remember seeing there was 4 minutes left,” Tamayo said. “I thought, ‘I had to help this team out. We’ve got to go and keep pushing up.’”
Tamayo found himself on the far post unmarked with 2:38 left on the clock to punched home the eventual game-winning goal.
“I thought I was going to miss it,” Tamayo admitted. “I played it with my left foot, then it went to my right and I shot it.”
Tamayo didn’t start, but Gette subbed in the sophomore at the right time to send the Wildcats into the quarterfinals.
“He (Tamayo) just stayed composed and has a great first touch,” Gette said. “The build up to it was good. It was a great ball to him. The whole play was fantastic.”
Sophomore goalie Ethan Kerstiens was fantastic in net for A-West. It was actually Kerstiens first varsity start with Landskov missing the game. Landskov is a cast member in A-West’s spring musical “The Theory of Relativity” which had a show Thursday night.
“He was awesome,” Gette said of Kerstiens.
Kanagy — A-West’s leading scorer — gave the Wildcats the first-half lead with a goal in the 27th minute off a back giveaway by Rangeview (10-1-1).
“We were high pressing and they made the mistake,” Kanagy said of capitalizing on the Raiders’ turnover deep in their own zone. “I picked up the ball, took a touch and put it in the top left corner.”
Despite finishing third in 5A Jeffco this season after winning back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, A-West is the lone 5A Jeffco team remaining in the tournament with both Valor Christian and Lakewood suffering first-round losses Thursday.
“Anything can happen,” Gette said as the Wildcats prepare for the quarterfinals this weekend. “We have to figure out how to be more productive and efficient offensively, but we’ll get there.”
A-West couldn’t get its offense going Saturday, April 25, at Legacy Stadium against No. 4 Grandview. The Wolves took a 1-0 victory to end the Wildcats’ season.
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco
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