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Eagles' soccer run ends; Heritage wins 1-0 thriller in semifinals

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By Anthony Arroyo

    ENGLEWOOD – The best season in the history the Adams City High School soccer team ended in the semifinals of the 5Astate soccer playoffs with a narrow 1-0 loss to Heritage.
    Adams City, who was the home team on the scoreboard, finished its season with a 17-2-0 record. The 17 wins is the most ever in school history, and the semifinals appearance is the furthest that the program has gone.
    “It’s easy to be disappointed with the outcome of the game. But it hard to ignore the impact that these kids have had to our school and to our community,” second-year head coach Ramiro Loera said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishment that we have conquered.”
    Heritage took advantage of an early goal and relied very heavily on its defense, sneaking by Adams City with a 1-0 victory.
    No. 5-seeded Adams City was very aggressive and held Heritage without a shot on goal for the entire second half. Unfortunately, the Eagles could never break the Heritage defense.
    The Eagles, playing as the home team, wasted no time trying to score a goal, as the first shot of the game came from the left foot of sophomore Daniel Devora that missed wide left. Six minutes later, Heritage had a chance with a free kick opportunity, but the Adams City defense held up.
    Junior goalkeeper Daniel Ontiveros saved another free kick opportunity at the 15-minute mark, one of nine saves he recorded for the day.
    The lone goal was scored in the 18th minute on a pass from Heritage sophomore Austin Fuller to senior Christian Vargas. Adams City stayed aggressive, but could not find the back of the net.

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    “One of the more frustrating things was that we were not at full strength and it showed,” Loera said. “These kids have heart though. I was very pleased with the way that they never gave up. They showed a lot of composure on the field, and they left it all out there.”
    Adams City came out in the second half in complete control of the offense and had six shots on goal that just could not get past the Heritage defense. The team had near goals from Devora, junior Jonathan Roman, senior Angel Guerrero and junior Alberto Castro within the first 10 minutes.
    ACHS had back-to-back corner kicks in the 59th minute that were cleared out. The last clear-cut chance came in the 65th minute. Roman was in front of the goal, but his kick went right to Heritage goalkeeper Tim Erwin, who finished with nine saves and was bailed out by his defense.
    Adams City will graduate five seniors, three of whom were starters. The five are Angel Guerrero, Jorge Barajas, Eduardo Ordaz, Marcos Garcia and Justin Conable.
    “Angel was our captain and is going to go on to bigger and better things,” Loera said. “I feel like if he keeps working hard, he can go pro. Eduardo overcame a lot of adversity and did a wonderful job for us. Jorge always gave it his all each and every game and played an important role for us. Although Marcos and Justin did not start for us, I hope they enjoyed this experience and hope it sticks with them. All the seniors played an important role in where we are as a program, and I am very proud of that.”
    Heritage will play No. 3-seeded Denver East Nov. 9 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. Denver East defeated Rock Canyon 1-0 in semifinal action. Heritage, the No. 24-seed, has been the lower seed in each round en route to the state championship game.
    Adams City advanced to the semifinals with a convincing 4-1 victory over Fort Collins Thursday afternoon. ACHS finished picture perfect at home this season, compiling a 10-0-0 record at Krogh Field.
    “We have been hungry, ever since our playoff loss last year to Mountain Vista,” said Ontiveros, who recorded four saves in the win. “This year, we took a deep look at the team we have and how much heart we had and we knew we would go far. We are in it to win a state championship, and we are almost there.”
    Adams City has a typical way that the team starts off games, and was a little untraditional early on. The team focuses on ball control and gets a good feel of its opponent. But Fort Collins was aggressive, not allowing the home team to get into much of a rhythm.
    “We could have played a little better,” Loera said. “I think at this stage, our age could be a factor. Overall, I was pleased how we came together and played as a team.”
    The Lambkins nearly got on the board first off the foot of senior Jesus Martinez, nailing a free kick opportunity about 30 yards, just over the goal.
    Adams City had its first big opportunity at the seven-minute mark. Sophomore Daniel Devora found a wide-open Jonathan Roman, who also missed high. The home team would not be denied however, as Roman found sophomore Roman Bustillos for the opening goal of the game 11 minutes later. This was the only goal scored in the first half after numerous of opportunities on both sides.
    “The only time we played as a team in the first half, it was when we scored the goal,” Loera said. “I think the kids were really nervous for this game. Once we settled down, we went back to what makes us successful.”
    Adams City found that aggression, but it wasn’t until later in the second half. The Eagles finally calmed down and pushed through three goals within a 13-minute span, really putting things out of reach. Junior Alberto Castro, Devora and Roman all took part in the offensive party.
    The home team was able to place its junior-varsity team in around the 72 minute mark. Martinez scored the last goal in the 79th minute.
    “It might be safe to say we are a second-half team,” Loera said with a chuckle. Adams City has scored eight of its 13 goals in the second half this postseason.
    Roman, senior Jorge Barajas, senior captain Angel Guerrero and Castro had assists in the three-goal victory. Senior defender Jose Flores led all defenders with eight steals.
The defense was impressive this postseason, only allowing three goals and one shutout in four games.
    “We have some of the best defensive players in the league and they always show up and always do their jobs,” Ontiveros said. “Playing team defense, they make it easy for me. They are the reason why we have not allowed more than two goals in any game played.”