Roaring Fork soccer wins in extra time to advance to first state championship game
Glenwood Springs Post Independent correspondent
DENVER — As time dwindled in the second half, the Roaring Fork High School boys soccer team had a strong sense of deja vu.
The fifth-seeded Rams were scoreless with No. 1 Salida in the Class 3A state semifinals Wednesday night, and it looked like they were heading to overtime.
In the same round of the state championships last year, Roaring Fork battled to a shootout but fell 2-1, ending its season.
But the narrative changed dramatically this time around at All City Stadium.
The Rams came from behind late in the second half to tie the game. And in overtime, they were finally victorious.
Roaring Fork (15-2-1 overall) scored with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the extra period to upset the top seed and secure its first bid to the championship game in program history.
“To tell you the truth, I was kind of consigning to another semifinal exit,” coach Nick Forbes said. “And then Ross (Barlow) pulls out a special moment.”
With 7:14 remaining in regulation, Salida (17-1-1) deflated the Rams’ hopes as junior Kai Brown scored on a wide open shot to take a 1-0 lead.
RFHS junior goalkeeper Noah Wheeless had come out of the goal to help defend, but Brown slipped by him and sailed the ball into the net.
“Once they scored I felt the whole team just come down,” said Wheeless, who had five saves on the night. “I felt terrible. I was like, ‘That was my fault’ and everyone (said), ‘No, we’re a team. We’re gonna win and we’re gonna lose together.
“And then that magic just happened.”
The Rams began to push hard on offense and had a couple of opportunities, but they couldn’t capitalize. Then Barlow, a sophomore, was left open in the back post and he slipped the ball past the goalie into the right corner with 1:20 left to tie the game at 1.
As the overtime period began, both sides played with urgency to start, but Barlow said he and his teammates began to slow down and play smarter.
Roaring Fork started controlling the ball and opened up a couple shots on goal. After a shot by sophomore Jose Mercado Jr. missed, the Rams got a corner kick. While battling for the ball, a Salida player committed a penalty right outside the net.
Barlow got set up for the penalty kick in the box and with 3:32 left on the clock, he knocked the ball into the left corner for the win.
“I just took a couple deep breaths before that PK and put it in,” Barlow said.
Now, despite playing in their first championship game, the Rams are feeling confident, especially since they have only allowed one goal in the postseason and took 14 shots on goal against Salida.
Roaring Fork will take on defending 3A state champion Kent Denver — 6-1 winners over Atlas Preparatory School in the night cap Wednesday — at 11 a.m. Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
“I think our defensive collectiveness is really strong, and you can see it when we play,” Forbes said. “They kind of had a little dip right at the end of the season, (but) right now they’re finding their best form and that’s all you can ask for as a coach is (to) find it when it matters.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The camp not only let the players shake the rust off, but it opened a window into the soul of Michael Goerne. A Minnesota native, Goerne moved to Carbondale soon after graduating from Marist College in New York and is largely credited for the massive growth of lacrosse in the valley.