AURORA | Noe Ortiz Pena saw a brief opening during the late stages of Wednesday night’s Class 5A boys state second round playoff game and the Grandview senior midfielder took full advantage.
As two Rangeview defenders split in front of him, Ortiz Pena ripped a shot into the far corner of the net with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation to break a 1-1 stalemate and senior Jaime Luna scored again less than a minute later as the third-seeded Wolves turned away the 19th-seeded Raiders 3-1 on the frigid turf at Legacy Stadium.
Senior Peter Goldy also scored a goal for coach Brian Wood’s Grandview team, which erased an early deficit to earn a trip to the 5A quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Saturday, where it will face Centennial League rival Cherokee Trail. The sixth-seeded Cougars (14-2-1) downed No. 22 Cherry Creek 1-0 in overtime.
“I just saw an opening when the two defenders just split and I shot it,” said Ortiz Pena, a transfer who has scored nine goals in his 11 games with the Wolves. “The keeper wasn’t ready, so I tried shooting far post and it went in. We had a lot of shots that didn’t want to go in.”
Rangeview — which played without senior midfielder Alexis Flores — took the lead five minutes into the game when senior Wally Solanke scored off a corner kick service from senior Isaiah Bouchard, but that’s all the offense it could muster.
Coach Vic Strouse’s Raiders finished the season 12-5 overall, with two of the losses coming to Grandview (15-1-1).
The Wolves — who also fell behind Rangeview early during a 2-1 regular season win Aug. 23 — needed just six minutes to get back even when Goldy snuck a shot inside the near post after he got on the end of a long throw in from Jeffrey Matney.
“We needed to get the first goal and we did, but we should have handled the throw-in and it hurt to let them back into the game so quickly,” Strouse said.
The Raiders had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the second half when junior Braidon Nourse found junior Rashid Seidu-Aroza (5A’s leader in goals scored) with an opening, but he pushed his shot wide.
The score remained tied for some time after that, though Grandview senior Ian Oltman had two prime chances turned away by Rangeview senior goalie Francisco Avilla.
A minute later, Ortiz Pena found the space he needed to tie the game as the Raiders failed to clear a ball in the goal box. The Wolves pushed forward right away after the score and got another on Luna’s header off an Oltman free kick.
“We tried to work on if we can go build right off that and just break them,” Wood said. “It was huge to get that third goal right after the second.”
Strouse felt his team didn’t refocus fast enough after yielding the go-ahead goal and the third one took all the wind out of the Raiders’ sails.
“It hurts, but we wanted to keep it close and maybe have a chance to nick it at the end,” Strouse said. “We never recovered emotionally from the second goal and then the third one took the heart out of us.
“We knew we had some issues and challenges with them, but I thought we met their challenges, we just made clinically poor errors at the wrong time.”
Grandview moves on to a quarterfinal matchup against a Cherokee Trail team it beat 8-2 with the Centennial League championship on the line.
The Wolves — with 16 seniors on the roster — seek a second straight trip to the semifinals, while the Cougars (who have 13 seniors of their own) are in pursuit of their first.
“They will definitely come through with a lot of pressure and want to beat us even more,” Pena said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports
(3) GRANDVIEW 3, (19) RANGEVIEW 1
Score by halves:
Rangeview 1 0 — 1
Grandview 1 2 — 3
Rangeview — Wally Solanke (Isaiah Bouchard), 5th minute
Grandview — Peter Goldy (Jeffrey Matney), 11th minute
Grandview — Noe Ortiz Pena, 67th minute
Grandview — Jaime Luna (Ian Oltman), 68th minute