Sopris Sun Staff
The Roaring Fork High School soccer boys are deep into their best season in recent memory, leaving higher ranked teams in their wake as they ascend through the playoffs.
So far in the 3A tournament, the Rams handily defeated the Aurora West College Prep Academy on Oct. 26 and The Academy on Oct. 31, both 2-0 on the opponent’s turf. With a 14-3 record, they’ve already matched Coach Nick Forbes’ best previous season, which ended in a 4-3 overtime loss to Peak to Peak in the second round of the 2014 state tournament.
“This is the farthest I’ve ever made it with a team,” Forbes said.
Many of the Rams’ current players stepped into roles left by those departing seniors. Now Roaring Fork has a fleet of juniors with three years of varsity experience, and it shows.
“I think this team has always been really, really strong,” Forbes said. “Now they’re kind of hitting that maturity where it’s make-or-break time.”
Not that it has been a perfect season. They missed their shot at the league title, coming in third to Delta and Coal Ridge.
“We started pretty strong and then dropped a few games that were really important for league,” Forbes acknowledged. Most of the teams we played this year I’d say we were the best team. Now the luck is finally coming for us rather than the opposite.”
In fact, Roaring Fork turned the tables on Delta in a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 20, and momentum has just been building from there.
“They’ve really turned it on for the end of the season,” Forbes said.
It doesn’t hurt that the Rams have the biggest roster of any team in the league.
“We have a huge bench and a lot of really good players. We don’t lose anything when we sub and switch,” Forbes noted. “In the last game we had players in positions they hadn’t played all season, and they were just awesome.”
Still, it was less than ideal to have the starting stopper and right back out due to eligibility. It can be difficult to be a student first and an athlete second, particularly when most playoff games mean missing a day of school to travel to the Front Range.
“The balance is going to be keeping them in good grades while still playing the games,” Forbes said. “Defensively we’ve been really sound all year. We have one of the lowest goals against ratios. Now we have a bit of an offensive threat to go with it. The pattern has been to get a goal early, keep em at arms length and punch ‘em on the counter, and it’s working really well.”
Leo Loya, who has by far the most time guarding the net, boasts 3.9 saves per game. Aidan Sloan is the top scorer, averaging a goal per game, but a full 13 Rams have had at least one goal for the season.
They’ll need the whole team to be at their top of their game for the next match against defending three time state champs Kent Denver on Nov. 4. The 15-1-1 Sun Devils took Coal Ridge out of the running in the last round and are ranked second, so they’ll have the home field advantage against the now-ninth-ranked Rams.
“We’re going into Kent pretty firm underdog,” Forbes admitted, “But I think this team can hang with anyone if they play like they have been.”
And if it doesn’t pan out, most of the team will have another shot next year, to say nothing of the strong junior varsity team waiting in the wings.
“I just coach for the season, but I have it in the back of my mind that this team is only going to get better,” said Forbes.