Chargers keep footing to advance

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Chatfield scores opening-round victory against Rocky Mountain

By Michael Hicks

LAKEWOOD — Heavy rain pelted the Lakewood Memorial Field and made it somewhat slippery for both Chatfield and Rocky Mountain players in their 5A boys soccer state playoff opener Oct. 24. But  the pre-winter storm that turned to snow late couldn’t rain on the Chargers’ parade.
A year after going 3-11-1, the Chargers were 11-3-1 during a regular season in which it finished second only to Arvada West in the 5A Jeffco League. Then in the opening round of the state playoffs, Chatfield got two goals from Ryan LaGreca and a wee bit of luck to double up 22nd-seeded Rocky Mountain 4-2. The Chargers (12-3-1) stretched their winning streak to four games.
“Tonight was one of those night where we were coming out early and getting ahead. We had a little bit of a mental lapse and weather could’ve played a role in that. Credit to Rocky they’re a good opponent. But the possession we put on and then building the play put us on top and into the second round,” Chatfield head coach Brock Blume said.
The Chargers’ Ben Overholt was credited with a goal in the third minute after his curving shot from the right wing deflected off Rocky Mountain defenders into the net for an own goal early 1-0 lead. While the early goal didn’t immediately result in continued success for 11th-seeded Chatfield it did set a tone.
“We were feeling it tonight,” LaGreca said. “We had good chemistry going. Our goals came out of hard work and a bit of luck on that first one.”
LaGreca’s first goal — in the 23rd minute — came off a direct free kick from 40 yards out. The shot escaped the outstretched arms of Rocky Mountain goalkeeper Owen Erickson and clanked off the crossbar and down into the net for a 2-0 lead. A header by Jordy Reiss, off an assist from Evan Eshleman — after Rocky Mountain had closed the gap thanks to a Shane Wagner breakaway, put the Chargers up 3-1 early in the second half.
Another LaGreca goal — also on a direct free kick in the 61st minute — culminated Chatfield’s scoring on a night when set pieces played an prominent role in the Chargers’ success.
“We’ve been talking about in this tournament set pieces are going to be the determining factor in a lot of the games. They ended up being very important in a couple of situations,” Blume said.
Rocky Mountain (8-6-2) got a late goal from Nate Farmer that trickled off Chatfield goalkeeper Steven Seagraves and inside the right post.
The Chargers junior finished with three saves.
Chatfield advanced to the Sweet 16 where it faced sixth-seeded Boulder, a 5-1 first-round winner over Montbello. The Chargers last played in the 5A playoffs in 2010, losing 8-1 at Boulder.
The second-round game was played Oct. 29. Results weren’t available at press time.