Roaring Fork roars to boys soccer state championship, tops Jefferson Academy
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
COLORADO SPRINGS — The 10 seniors of Roaring Fork High School’s boys soccer team did not forget Nov. 16, 2019.
The Rams were routed in the state championship 5-0 by Kent Denver, leaving a bitter taste that only soured more in the 2020 COVID-19 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs.
Nearly two years later, those seniors washed the bitterness away, replacing it with pure euphoria. The Rams defeated Jefferson Academy 2-1 at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs on Friday to win the program’s first state championship.
“For us to come back two years later and finish the job this time is so unreal,” senior captain Ross Barlow said. “I wanted nothing more than to get back to where we are today.”
Roaring Fork was forced to prove it through the entire playoffs. The Rams entered as the No. 11 seed, not even the highest out of the Western Slope League, which they won.
The Rams had to defeat No. 3 seed Faith Lutheran in the quarterfinal. Then they had to down No. 2 Atlas Preparatory in the semis. Then, in the finals, top-seeded Jefferson Academy entered with a 0 in their season loss column.
All season and all through the playoffs in each of their comeback victories, the Rams never lost sight of the end goal and never saw themselves as the underdogs everyone else did.
“We knew we were ranked 11th, but we never saw it that way,” senior goalkeeper Jacob Martin said. “We played like No. 1.”
Roaring Fork went down just 13 minutes into the championship game. The Jaguars seemed destined for a lead entering the half before a broken play led to Carlos Perez Rios with the ball in the penalty box and a wide open net.
He bounced it off the post, but Ivy Ortiz cleaned up the rebound with just 46 seconds left on the clock.
They survived an offensive attack in the first 16 minutes of the second half before Barlow found sophomore Josh Hernandez behind the defense. A simple tap past the Jaguars’ keeper inside the far post and Roaring Fork had the lead.
The Rams survived the final push, clearing away a corner kick as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
It gives Roaring Fork its first state championship since girls basketball three-peated from 1989-1991.
“From the get-go, this team has been so motivated and so focused,” Roaring Fork coach Nick Forbes said. “Since that first game of the season, I had a feeling that this team was going to make it all the way.”
For a Roaring Fork athletics program that is seeing a revitalization, it gives the school a true flagship to hang its hat on.
“Programs are starting to come back and to be part of that community and that momentum is special,” Forbes said.
The Rams finish their season with a 17-3 record, but all that matters is the final notch in the win column.
“We’re the best,” Ortiz said. “We all worked together to make it happen.”
Members of the valley’s Jewish community gathered at the Albright Pavilion at Aspen Meadows Thursday for their second annual menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate and acknowledge the first day of Hanukkah.