FORT COLLINS | The Hinkley boys soccer team’s return to the Class 5A state playoffs lasted a long time.
In the postseason for the first time since 2013, the Thunderbirds stuck around all the way to the quarterfinals — longer than any other Aurora team save Grandview, a semifinalist — before their run came to an end Saturday at Fort Collins.
The third-seeded Lambkins used a three-minute burst of offense to score three goals in the opening half and went on to a 4-1 win over the sixth-seeded Thunderbirds at French Field.
Hinkley finishes the season with a stellar 15-2-1 record, with the only losses suffered by coach Marcos Madera’s club coming to two of the four teams remaining in the 5A semifinals in Fort Collins and fifth-seeded Grandview. The Lambkins (16-1-1) and Wolves (16-2) could meet in the state championship game.
The EMAC champion Thunderbirds earned their trip to the quarterfinals when senior Enock Kenge’s overtime goal sent them past Aurora Public Schools rival Rangeview.
Hinkley’s defense had been a catalyst for its season, as it ranked in the top three in 5A in fewest goals allowed all season and gave senior Anandro Sinaga and the Thunderbirds’ offense time to work.
Fort Collins changed the formula, however.
The Lambkins — the second-most prolific offensive team in 5A — scored three times in short succession in the opening half against a Hinkley team that hadn’t yielded more than a single goal in a game all season.
Junior Anthony Priest had two first-half goals for Fort Collins and completed his hat track in the second half for a 4-0 lead before senior Jose Sagamaga got the Thunderbirds on the scoreboard in the 68th minute.
Hinkley will have a vastly different roster next season, with 18 seniors set to graduate.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(3) FORT COLLINS 4, (6) HINKLEY 1
Score by halves:
Hinkley 0 1 — 1
Fort Collins 3 1 — 4
Hinkley goal: Jose Sagamaga. Fort Collins goals: Anthony Priest 3, Jesus Bautista-Torres. Fort Collins assists: Bautista-Torres Alec Fronapel, Josh Juarez, Matthew Keaten. Hinkley saves: Alexis Acevedo (13 shots on goal-9 saves). Fort Collins saves: Alex Snavely (4 shots on goal-3 saves)