AURORA | The Cherokee Trail boys soccer team has matched the program’s deepest run in the Class 5A state playoffs all-time after it earned its way into the quarterfinals Tuesday night.
The seventh-seeded Cougars look like they don’t plan to stop any time soon.
Cherokee Trail fell behind 10th-seeded Rampart in the first half of their second round playoff game at Legacy Stadium, but scored the next three goals — two by sophomore standout Peter Eugenio Deras — in a 3-0 victory that earned it a spot among 5A’s eight remaining teams.
“They were a better squad than we anticipated and the players we scouted were better than we anticipated,” Cougars coach Mark Hill said. “That being said, we felt even when we were down 1-nil that we were OK as long as we made halftime adjustments and start to execute.”
Hill’s team — which has matched the 2018 team by reaching the quarterfinals — faces No. 2 Denver East at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Englewood High School with its first trip to the 5A Final Four on the line.
To get there, Cherokee Trail — coming off a 3-0 victory over Chatfield that made it the only Aurora team to survive the first round — had to get past a Rampart team that had won five straight, including its postseason opener against Columbine.
Senior Canyon Craft put the Rams (11-6) on top on a set piece goal in the 22nd minute as the Rampart finally cashed in on one of a slew of corner kick opportunities it had in the opening half. The Cougars trailed for less than three minutes, however.
Junior Garrison Hanson dribbled the ball into the goal box and was taken down, resulting on a penalty kick chance. Ruiz drilled it home for his fifth goal of the season and the teams remained tied at a goal apiece going into halftime.
Eugenio Deras, who was the team’s tone-setter in its opening playoff victory, then turned the tide when he came on to a ball after a teammate’s shot was initially blocked and hit a line drive volley from about 15 yards out that beat Rampart keeper Alec Dutil.
In the closing minutes of regulation, Eugenio Deras tallied another goal to give Cherokee Trail some insurance and earn a share of the team’s goal lead with senior Amman Muzaffar. Both players have scored eight goals on the season and Deras leads the Cougars in assists as well with five.
Cherokee Trail now faces a Denver East team that eliminated Grandview — the Cougars’ Centennial League rival — 2-1 in the opening round and got past No. 15 Heritage 1-0 in the second round.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 CLASS 5A 2ND ROUND BOYS SOCCER PLAYOFFS
(7) CHEROKEE TRAIL 3, (10) RAMPART 1
Score by halves:
Rampart 1 0 — 1
Cher. Trail 1 2 — 3
Rampart — Canyon Craft (Brayden Tester), 22nd minute
Cherokee Trail — Marcelo Ruiz, 25th minute
Cherokee Trail — Peter Eugenio Deras (Bentley Sutherland-Arreola), 48th minute
Cherokee Trail — Eugenio Deras (Chase Jensen), 77th minute
Rampart saves: Alec Dutil (10 shots on goal-7 saves). Cherokee Trail saves: Colin Starr (5 shots on goal-1 save)