Tigers put snub in past

Soccer team wants to make statement in playoffs against No. 1 Cherry Creek

You can complain about that Front Range bias and bemoan your fate all you want when your soccer team gets the last seed in a 32-team playoff bracket.

At some point, however, you’ve got to resign yourself to the fact you’ve got a game this week.

That’s the reality facing the Grand Junction High School boys soccer team as it prepares for today’s first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.

Despite finishing the regular season with an 11-3-1 record and tying Durango for second place in the Southwestern League, the Tigers got the short end of the stick when the playoff pairings were released Sunday by the Colorado High School Activities Association.

Durango (7-7-1) got the 20th seed and plays No. 13 seed Air Academy today in Colorado Springs

“It was obviously a surprise,” Grand Junction senior forward Brendan Ryan said. “There’s nothing really you can do about it.”

Actually, there is.

The Tigers’ plan in Aurora today is to make a statement to the state soccer selection committee.

“All we can do is show them we aren’t a 32 seed,” Ryan said.

The game is at 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Stadium at Cherokee Trail High School.

Being the last seed, Grand Junction gets the unenviable task of facing the state’s top-ranked team, Cherry Creek, in the first round.

“They’ve got some really talented players,” Ryan said of the scouting report on the Bruins (12-2-1). “We’ve got to find a way to stop them.”

Grand Junction made the road trip Tuesday, spent the night in the Denver area and is planning on a casual day today with a walk-through in hopes of avoiding the travel lag usually associated with road trip.

Cherry Creek’s two losses were to O’Fallon, Ill., and St. John the Baptist College Prep of St. Louis in the Collinsville, Ill., tournament the first weekend in October. Its lone tie came in a nonleague game at Fairview.

The Bruins have outscored their opponents 46-16 this season. They’ve shut out five opponents.

On the plus side for Grand Junction, Cherry Creek has scored more than four goals in only two games. The Tigers believe if they can keep the score down, they’ll be in the game.

“Our defense is fantastic with Matt Leach and Talon Bates,” Ryan said.

Grand Junction is riding a five-game streak without a loss. None of the Tigers’ three losses have been by more than two goals.

“If we get down a goal, we can get back up,” Ryan said.

The first-round winners advance to Saturday’s round of 16.


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