Arapahoe gained a berth in the Class 5A state playoff semifinals for the first time since 2010 following a pair of 1-0 victories in the second round and quarterfinals. The Warriors, seeded No. 8, put …
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Arapahoe gained a berth in the Class 5A state playoff semifinals for the first time since 2010 following a pair of 1-0 victories in the second round and quarterfinals.
The Warriors, seeded No. 8, put their 15-1-2 record on the line in a semifinal match against No. 13 Broomfield that was scheduled for Nov. 7 at Echo Park Stadium in Parker.
Arapahoe earned the semifinal berth with a 1-0 upset over top-seeded Fairview on Nov. 3. It was the first loss of the season for the Knights, who couldn't manage to score against the Warriors' stingy defense.
“We played well enough against Fairview,” said coach Mark Hampshire. “Our guys did what they needed to do. In a tight game, there are not a lot of opportunities so we had to capitalize on one of the few that we had.
“Fairview had the best offense we've seen all year. Our defense, and in particular our goalkeeper (Spencer Cobb), really had to play well. Spencer didn't have to make a lot of big saves but he had to step up to make the ones needed. It's been a while since the boys have been in the semifinals.”
Arapahoe's leading scorer, Cameron Gail, scored in the 53rd minute against Fairview to give the Warriors the only goal of the game. Gail headed the ball into the goal off a corner kick by Zander Hahn.
Gail picked up an assist in the 1-0 second round win over Arvada West on Oct. 31 at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.
Arapahoe scored in the 15th minute of the first half on a textbook play when Gail beat a defender on the outside after a quick throw in. He centered a pass and sophomore Jay Wolf converted the pass into the winning goal.
“I think the defense was kind of asleep,” said Wolf. “I saw the ball coming in, I had a wide open net. I hit it and it went in.”
Wolf gave the Warriors the advantage but couldn't help protect the lead as he was stranded on the sidelines waiting to sub into the game during the final two minutes when the Wildcats controlled the ball and put heavy pressure on the Arapahoe goal.
“I was supposed to sub back in but the ball didn't go out,” said Wolf. “I trusted everybody on the team that we could put through. We had to drop everybody back, but it worked out. We can hang with anybody.”
Arapahoe dominated play early in the match against Arvada West and then hung on for the victory.
“It's been something these guys have been very good at,” Hampshire said. “Attack early, try to get the pace up, finish some goals early and make sure that we hold the lead. It becomes more and more difficult because teams are quick, fast, strong so we have to play smart.
“Arvada West gave us trouble in the end, that's for sure. I'm very proud of the way these guys handle themselves. It gets very physical.”
Cobb made six save against Arvada West and 10 in the quarterfinal at Fairview.
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