But the Regional Champions ensured their grand finale was a stunning one by fighting a fierce battle against their No. 2-ranked adversaries, Peak to Peak Charter School, Tuesday night in the second round of the State Playoffs in Lafayette. Ridgway ultimately fell to the Pumas, 2-1.
The Demons were in new territory on Tuesday, having never before made it past the preliminary round of the Sstate soccer tournament. Last season, in Ridgway’s first-ever (at least in recent memory) appearance at state, the team tumbled in the first round with a 2-0 loss to the Aspen skiers at home. This season, the more experienced Ridgway team sang a much different tune in their first state tournament game.
In the preliminary state game, played at Ridgway’s Solar Ranch Field on Monday, the boys battled valiantly against the state’s No 31-ranked Coal Ridge. Rather than succumbing to the pressure of facing a still scoreless game as the game clock ticked closer and closer to the end of regulation play, the boys fired up a clear, keen plan of attack. Ben Zaugg found the net with ten minutes left to play, and the Demons managed to carry the lead to the end of the game thus catapulting the team into the second round.
While the team was excited about the feat they had accomplished on Monday night, RHS head soccer coach Chuck Siefken said the players didn’t have much time for the victory to sink in. Due to last week’s rescheduling of the preliminaries, which were slated to take place last Wednesday but because of snow were played this Monday, Ridgway’s players had less than a day to recoup before making the long trip to the Front Range for the second round game.
Despite playing a hard-fought game just 24-hours before, and then making the long bus ride to Lafayette the next morning, the Demons nevertheless stepped up to the challenge of facing the state’s No. 2-ranked team, the Peak to Peak Pumas.
“The guys just worked really hard; They played the day before and then had a long trip to make, but were still able to match their intensity two days in row. I was really pleased with that,” Siefken said of the Ridgway soccer team’s whirlwind week.
The secret to the team’s two-day State Tourney fireworks was the fact that the players, Siefken said, were “determined to play the best soccer they could.” And facing an adversary such as Peak to Peak, ranked near the top of the 3A charts, was no easy task. Yet thanks to exacting play and hard-line determination, Ridgway never lost sight of their horizons throughout their Tuesday match, losing to Peak to Peak by only one goal. Eli Holmes was the Demons’ only goal scorer.
“The guys were excited to be where they hadn’t been before, in the second round, and that is what drove their efforts,” Siefken said on Wednesday.
The 2009 Ridgway soccer team will graduate five of its players this year: Michael Gardner, Peter Felde, Nakoa Martinez, Hunter Gleason, and Jake Coulter will graduate from RHS this spring. Siefken said that while it’s difficult to predict what next season’s soccer squad will be able to do, he says it’s his expectation that the 2010 team will follow in the 2009 and 2008 teams’ footsteps.
“They learned a lot this year about what they need to do throughout season to be prepared, even to the end,” Siefken said.