Boys Soccer: Five Aurora teams enter postseason fray

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Starters on the Smoky Hill boys soccer team kneel together before the second half of the Buffs' regular season finale against Overland. The Centennial League champions enter the 2014 Class 5A boys state soccer tournament seeded No. 2 overall and play host to No. 31 Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 23 in the opening round. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)
Starters on the Smoky Hill boys soccer team kneel together before the second half of the Buffs’ regular season finale against Overland. The Centennial League champions enter the 2014 Class 5A boys state soccer tournament seeded No. 2 overall and play host to No. 31 Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 23 in the opening round. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

The Smoky Hill boys soccer team wanted nothing to do with having the top seed in the Class 5A state playoffs.

Coach Kersten Mullan’s Buffaloes had the target that comes with the top spot last season and it tripped them up well short of their goal, so they hoped to leave the trappings of a No. 1 seed to another team in 2014.

The seeding committee for the state tournament complied, placing the Centennial League champions in the No. 2 spot behind Rock Canyon, one of only two teams to beat Smoky Hill (13-2) this season. Three other Aurora teams — No. 9 Grandview, No. 11 Rangeview and No. 29 — join the Buffs in the 5A playoffs that open Oct. 23, while 31st-seeded Vista PEAK represents the city in the 4A playoffs Oct. 22.

“All I’m going to say is I don’t want to be No. 1; we’ll go from there,” Mullan said after Smoky Hill won the league for the third straight season — this time outright — with a 6-0 win against Overland Oct. 15.

“We’re just going to do our thing and keep moving,” added Mullan, who was just glad to get the chance to play as many games at The Swamp as possible.

Senior Walter Prince, who scored two goals and had an assists in the closing win against Overland, also didn’t want the top spot and just wanted to be in the mix for a chance to make it back to the 5A state championship game where the Buffaloes fell in 2012.

“Right now it’s about having fun rather than having something to prove,” Prince said. “We don’t have anything to prove. We’re going to have fun with it and work hard and whatever happens, happens.”

Prince has tallied 10 goals on the season, putting him second behind senior star Kevin Del Mazo, who has piled up team bests with 15 goals and nine assists. Thirteen different players have scored at least one goal this season for the multi-dimensional Buffaloes.

Senior Andrew Franceschi has posted eight shutouts for a Smoky Hill team that’s yielded just 11 goals in 15 games.

The Buffaloes open at home against No. 31 Lincoln, with a win potentially earning them a chance to avenge their other defeat of the regular season — a 3-2 loss to Denver East on Aug. 29 — in the next round. The 18th-seeded Angels would need to get past No. 15 Ralston Valley to make that possible.

In Aurora’s other postseason first round contests, Grandview squares off with No. 24 Rocky Mountain to  open, Rangeview draws No. 22 Chatfield in the first round and Aurora Central plays at No. 4 Doherty.

Coach Brian Wood’s Wolves (10-4-1) enter the postseason with five wins in their last six games, with the only loss 1-0 decision against Smoky Hill. Grandview finish in the third spot in the Centennial League due to the loss to the Buffaloes as well as a 2-1 defeat to Arapahoe.

Sophomore Rhys DeSota has come into his own this season and leads the team with 13 goals to go with four assists, while senior David Kim has racked up eight goals and senior Ian Cerro has six.

In the goal, senior Taran Stafford’s has allowed one goal or fewer in his last six games in the net.

Veteran coach Vic Strouse guided Rangeview to an 11-4 mark in the regular season and the Raiders atop the EMAC standings with an 8-1 mark, which included only a 3-1 loss to league runner-up Westminster.

Rangeview has a diverse offense with nine players having scored at least two goals, though senior striker Jesus Morales is the only player in double figures with 10 goals. Senior midfielder Jack Ramirez has tallied a team-high 10 assists and is a key on the Raiders’ set pieces.

Despite welcoming an entirely new backline coming into the season, Rangeview has been very stingy defensively. With Jose Helguera Lopez taking over capably in the goal, the Raiders have posted eighth shutouts in their last nine games and allowed more than one goal in a game just three times in 15 outings.

Aurora Central (10-4) started the season at 6-0 with a high-powered offense, but coach Ken Wu’s team found tougher going in EMAC play. The Trojans enter the postseason with three losses in their past five games, though the offense did perk up in the regular season finale with a 6-2 win over Northglenn.

Jose Colton Alvarez and Alexis Zavala paced Aurora Central with seven goals apiece in the regular season.

Vista PEAK’s return to the 4A postseason brings a matchup at No. 2 Classical Academy.

Coach Jason Elliott’s team goes into the playoffs as the No. 31 seed, hoping to pull off a stunner. The Bison (8-5-2) qualified for the postseason in 2013 as well and lost a 1-0 decision at higher-seeded Valor Christian.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

2014 CLASS 5A BOYS SOCCER STATE PLAYOFFS

QUADRANT 1

First round (Oct. 23)

No. 32 Grand Junction at No. 1 Rock Canyon

No. 17 Arvada West vs. No. 16 Montbello, 7 p.m. at All-City Stadium

No. 25 ThunderRidge at No. 8 Fairview, 6 p.m.

No. 24 Rocky Mountain at NO. 9 GRANDVIEW, 7 p.m., at Legacy Stadium

Round of 16 (Oct. 29)

Grand Junction/Rock Canyon winner vs. Arvada West/Montbello winner

ThunderRidge/Fairview winner vs. Rocky Mountain/GRANDVIEW winner

Quarterfinals (Nov. 1)

Round of 16 winners

QUADRANT 2

First round (Oct. 23)

No. 28 Brighton at No. 5 Mountain Vista

No. 21 Lakewood at No. 12 Broomfield, 6 p.m.

NO. 29 AURORA CENTRAL vs. No. 4 Doherty, 4 p.m., at Garry Berry Stadium

No. 20 Fossil Ridge at No. 13 Cherry Creek, 6:30 p.m.

Round of 16 (Oct. 29)

Brighton/Mountain Vista winner vs. Lakewood/Broomfield winner

AURORA CENTRAL/Doherty winner vs. Fossil Ridge/Cherry Creek winner

Quarterfinals (Nov. 1)

Round of 16 winners

QUADRANT 3

First round (Oct. 23)

No. 30 Adams City at No. 3 Boulder, 7 p.m.

No. 19 Poudre vs. No. 14 Heritage, 6:30 p.m. at Littleton Public Schools Stadium

No. 27 Westminster at No. 6 Arapahoe, 4 p.m.

No. 22 Chatfield at NO. 11 RANGEVIEW, 6 p.m., at Aurora Public Schools Stadium

Round of 16 (Oct. 29)

Adams City/Boulder winner vs. Poudre/Heritage winner

Westminster/Arapahoe vs. Chatfield/RANGEVIEW winner

Quarterfinals (Nov. 1)

Round of 16 winners

QUADRANT 4

First round (Oct. 23)

No. 26 Fort Collins at No. 7 Pine Creek, 7 p.m. at District 20 Stadium

No. 23 Columbine at No. 10 Legend, 4 p.m. at Sports Authority Stadium (Parker)

No. 31 Lincoln at NO. 2 SMOKY HILL, 4 p.m.

No. 18 Denver East vs. No. 15 Ralston Valley, 5 p.m. at NAAC

Round of 16 (Oct. 29)

Fort Collins/Pine Creek winner vs. Columbine/Legend winner

Lincoln/SMOKY HILL winner vs. Denver East/Ralston Valley winner

Quarterfinals (Nov. 1)

Round of 16 winners

Semifinals (Nov. 5)

Quadrant 1 winner vs. Quadrant 2 winner

Quadrant 3 winner vs. Quadrant 4 winner

Championship (Nov. 8)

Semifinal winners