Middle Park boys soccer reflects on season: ‘It was really something special’
Despite outshooting Jefferson Academy 31-13, the Middle Park boys soccer team’s season ended with a 2-1 loss Friday in the first round of the state playoffs.
“The loss was devastating, not because we lost, but because all of us wanted more time together,” Coach Dane Ruttenberg said after the game. “In all of our minds, we believed we were going to have more practices and at least one more game. The boys played with heart and class, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. It has been an honor to coach them.”
For many of the fans packing the stands, it was an honor to watch the Panthers this year, too.
The boys finished regular season play at 12-3, the school’s best ever record, after the previous high water mark was set at 10-5.
Middle Park was also ranked No. 13 in the state, the school’s highest ranking ever, and the team scored 52 goals this season while conceding only 17, the least in school history for regular season play.
Goalkeeper Ethan Ruttenberg anchored a stiff Panthers’ defense, and he was second in the league by allowing opponents 1.33 goals per game on average and second in saves with 95.
Meanwhile, Gustavo Galviz was a beast on offense with a team-high 18 goals and eight assists. He was second in the league in both categories.
Additionally, Akram Hanna had 10 goals, accomplishing an individual goal he set for himself, along with three assists. Senior team captain Jaime Rios had nine goals with seven assists.
After the season-ending game, Hanna cried with his teammates. Later, he explained that many of the team’s 12 seniors have been playing together since they were 8 years old and going out with such a successful season was “super special,” even though it ended in a tough loss.
“It was a super great experience,” he said of the season. “I’m super proud of how we did this year.”
For Rios, nothing was sweeter than beating Aspen to tie the school’s record for wins in a season. After the game, Coach Ruttenberg allowed his team to shave off his beard for only the second time in more than 20 years.
That and his teammates are two pieces of the season Rios will never forget.
“Oh, those guys are amazing,” Rios said of his teammates. “They are just super fun to play with, and the chemistry we had was amazing. We knew what each other wanted and we played together, not like a team, but as a family.”
Another anchor on defense, Jack Orear, is also a team captain. He said breaking the school record was “really cool,” but so too was hosting Middle Park’s first ever playoff game at home.
However, Orear said he’s really going to remember the season for the team, who was on it, how they played together and the success they had.
“It was a great year; it was a great season,” he said. “I don’t think I would trade it for anything… We had some off days, but when you put it all together, it was really something special.”
Looking to the future, Coach Ruttenberg knows the team is going to miss its seniors, but still has some great talent returning with the Panthers’ starting goalkeeper and leading scorer both returning. Other players key to the team’s success were junior Alex Holinka and sophomores Seth Holestine, Cade Jones and Adrian Rios.
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