Aurora’s 2016 boys soccer season was one of resurgence for several programs, though it didn’t necessarily translate into postseason success.
Grandview carried the banner furthest for the city in the Class 5A postseason with a run to the quarterfinals, while five other city qualifiers (Aurora Central, Cherokee Trail, Gateway, Rangeview and Regis Jesuit) were stopped in either the first or the second round.
Several Wolves appear on the first unit of the 2016 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Boys Soccer Team, which was picked by the Sentinel in conjunction with balloting of Aurora coaches. All 54 of the Aurora players who received all-conference accolades for the Centennial, Continental or EMAC leagues made it, along with several others.
After falling frustratingly short of the 5A playoffs in 2015, coach Brian Wood’s Grandview team had an extra fire coming into the new campaign. The Wolves finished 13-3-2 and exited the playoffs in the quarterfinals after holding eventual state champion and undefeated Boulder to just two goals.
Junior defender Joseph George played a large part on the backline that choked off the opposition with its aggressiveness and ability to cover for one another, which helped the unit allow the fewest goals of any Aurora team (14) in 18 games. He also countered with two goals and two assists going the other way.
In his third varsity season, senior midfielder Alex Ruiz racked up nine assists (tied for the most of any player in Aurora) and was part of a very cohesive midfield for the Wolves, earning All-Centennial League first team distinction. Many of sophomore forward Raymond Jackson’s eight goals and five assists were timely for Grandview.
Cherokee Trail knocked off Rock Canyon in the opening round of the playoffs for its first postseason win since moving up to 5A on a single goal by senior forward Raghav Thapa. The score was the 11th of the season for Thapa, who also had six assists. Junior Diego Ramos’ shift to a prominent role in the back helped the Cougars (7-8-2) make a big improvement in the later stages of the season.
Regis Jesuit’s galvinizing force in the middle was junior Cole Blake, who helped the Raiders with plenty of possession and also used his experience as a defender to short circuit some opponents’ attacks. In the back, senior Patrick Selner’s play helped ease the graduation of two center backs from the previous season and he played at an All-Continental League first team level (as did Blake) for a team that managed five shutouts.
Rangeview had another outstanding season — which produced another EMAC championship and included a first round playoff victory over Greeley West — with depth and strength at every level on the field.
Senior forward Joey Carlson provided leadership, fire and firepower up top (with a total of nine goals — scored in nine separate games — and four assists), while junior midfielder Juan Chavez (2 goals, 3 assists) helped drive things in the midfield and defender Rudy Ovale and a revamped back line allowed just 15 goals, just one more than Grandview for lowest in the city, while he added four assists. All three Raiders earned All-EMAC first team nods.
Gateway challenged for the EMAC championship down to the final game and finished 12-3-1, with senior forward Miguel Zambrano setting the tone. The physical forward who was very strong on the ball tallied 12 goals, including the lone score in a win over Aurora Central that earned the Olys a chance to play for the league title. Zambrano also had four assists, including one on Saul Aguilar’s goal to give Gateway the lead in its playoff game against Broomfield.
Aurora Central’s Jesus Dorado won EMAC Player of the Year honors not so much for his statistics, but for the organization and calming presence on another Trojans’ playoff run. He scored three goals and dished out three assists in addition to galvanizing the team in the middle of the field.
Although his Eaglecrest team fell short of the playoffs despite eight wins, senior goalkeeper Davis Wheeler kept his team in games with his sometimes spectacular shot-stopping ability. The All-Centennial League first team selection played a whopping 1,040 minutes in the net and finished with the league’s most saves with 92 as he was continually tested by top offensive attacks.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2016 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-AURORA BOYS SOCCER TEAM
Forward: Joey Carlson, Rangeview, sr.; Raymond Jackson, Grandview, soph.; Raghav Thapa, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Miguel Zambrano, Gateway, sr.; Midfield: Cole Blake, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Juan Chavez, Rangeview, jr.; Jesus Dorado, Aurora Central, sr.; Alex Ruiz, Grandview, sr.; Defense: Joseph George, Grandview, jr.; Rudy Ovale, Rangeview, sr.; Diego Ramos, Cherokee Trail, jr.; Patrick Selner, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Goalkeeper: Davis Wheeler, Eaglecrest, sr.
Forward: Sammy Eskariat, Eaglecrest, jr.; Paulison Fasu, Overland, sr.; Mateo Grajales, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Amani Hawazi, Vista PEAK, soph.; Alexis Zavala, Aurora Central, sr.; Midfield: Orlin Euceda, Rangeview, sr.; Yuriy Hrybovych, Eaglecrest, sr.; Tyler Pak, Grandview, sr.; Christian Perez, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Jacob Roldan, Smoky Hill, sr.; Defense: Jason Chinyere, Rangeview, sr.; Pascual Lozoya Diaz, Gateway, sr.; Joshua Pyle, Grandview, jr.; Alex Tellez, Rangeview, sr.; Goalkeeper: Juanito Helguera Lopez, Rangeview, sr.
Nathan Admassu, Vista PEAK, jr.; Sajjad Alfatlawi, Overland, sr.; Carlos Alvarez, Aurora Central, jr.; Steven Cano, Vista PEAK, jr.; Saul Castellano, Aurora Central, fr.; Ben Cavarra, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Luis Cervantes, Rangeview, jr.; Zack Collins, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Ulises Cosme, Aurora Central, sr.; Carlos Diaz, Eaglecrest, sr.; Ivan Enriquez, Rangeview, sr.; Alexis Flores, Rangeview, soph.; Colin Giardino, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Josh Guzman, Gateway, soph.; Ben Garcia Hernandez, Cherokee Trail, soph.; Thang Mana, Aurora Central, sr.; Daniel Mejia Mendoza, Gateway, sr.; Pedro Navarette, Smoky Hill, sr.; Coby Zazueta Osorio, Gateway, jr.; Joey Patterson, Gateway, jr.; Michael Payne, Smoky Hill, sr.; Christian Perez, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Sam Piatcheck, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Zach Robertson, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Erick Robinson, Grandview, jr.; Jalen Sanchez, Rangeview, sr.; Oscar Sarabia, Hinkley, jr.; Junior Sewell, Eaglecrest, jr.; Juan Simental, Gateway, jr.; Eddie St. Martin, Grandview, jr.; Matthew Stravato, Overland, sr.; Eduardo Torres, Aurora Central, jr.; Erick Torres, Gateway, jr.; Luis Valerio, Vista PEAK, sr.