Wildcats fall again in playoffs to Denver East
DENVER — For Dan McKee, it’s all about progressing.
Four seasons ago, the Fruita Monument High School boys soccer team was in a long drought of not having made the playoffs. That string was broken three years ago.
Now it’s about getting that playoff win.
The Wildcats battled Denver East and the elements in Wednesday’s first round of the Class 5A state playoffs. They couldn’t defeat either one.
The Angels scored three second-half goals to ease to a 5-1 victory and end Fruita Monument’s season.
Ironically, Wednesday’s loss was almost a carbon copy of last season’s first-round game, also played at Denver East with the Angels winning 4-0
It was also played in a nearly identical weather situation. The rain began nearly an hour before the opening whistle and persisted throughout the match with temperatures in the mid-40s.
On the plus side, the Wildcats became the first team to score on East in the past two playoffs. The Angels, the second seed in this year’s bracket, breezed through last season’s playoffs without giving up a goal, including a 4-0 victory over Fruita Monument in the first round — in a steady downpour.
That score came from Cole Cannon, whose rebound off a direct kick attempt tie the game at 1-1 midway through the first half.
East took the lead for good 12 minutes later to gain the edge by halftime.
Three minutes into the second half, East got the first of three goals in a 10-minute span to spell the final difference.
“They’re a very sound team,” McKee said, tipping his cap to the Angels.
The goal 3½ minutes into the second half shifted the momentum East’s way.
“It did deflate our guys,” McKee said.
The steady rain also played a factor as a couple of goals simply slid through the hands Wildcats goalkeeper Connor Gaty.
“The ball just took some bad hops,” McKee said.
The loss marked the third consecutive year the Wildcats lost in the first round of the playoffs, but McKee was upbeat.
“We had an eight-game win streak,” he said of a run of consecutive victories between losses to five-time Southwestern League champion Montrose.
In addition, this year’s roster sported only three seniors, which bodes well for the future.
“We’re young; we’re ready to take over,” McKee said of vying for a league title and, consequently, a higher seed in the playoffs next season.
That focus begins next month, when McKee plans to start offseason workouts.
Already, “We’re going to start looking at next year,” he said.