Granby " Panther soccer team heads into playoffs with two fresh victories |

Granby " Panther soccer team heads into playoffs with two fresh victories

Will Bublitz
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The boys soccer team of Middle Park High School in Granby, Colorado, is riding into the playoffs this week on the momentum from victories in the final two games of the regular season.

The Panthers trounced Manual 6-1 in a home game on Tuesday, Oct. 14. They followed it up by shutting out Sheridan 3-0 on Friday, Oct. 17.

“We finished very strongly,” said coach Shawn McElroy. “In our last 10 games, we were 7-2-1 which shows we are peaking at the right time.”

Victory over Manual

Middle Park’s 6-1 win over Manual was played on the Panthers’ home field.

“We clearly dominated that game,” McElroy said. “We brought in our reserve players in the second half.”

Middle Park scored five goals in the first half with the first goal being scored within the first minute of play when Elliott Levett blasted the ball into the net off an assist from Oscar Hernandez. A few minutes later, Erik Hetzler earned a second goal unassisted.

The Panthers’ Bartosz Koczera kept the team’s offensive drive alive in the first half by scoring two more goals. His first was earned with an assist from Levett; his second was unassisted.

Rounding out the team’s first-half scoring spree was Brandon Cronin, who slammed the ball into the net shortly before halftime.

Middle Park’s sixth and final goal came in the second half as Robert Johnson smashed the ball into the net off an assist from Hernandez.

“We accidentally scored Manual’s only goal late in the second half,” McElroy said. “The ball was in the box and we tried to clear it, but it ricocheted around and went in. So we actually scored all of the goals in that game.”

McElroy praised the play of goalkeeper Ben Welcome, pointing out that he made four saves.

Sheridan on the road

The Panthers followed up that win with another one against Sheridan in Denver. The 3-0 final score was Middle Park’s first shutout victory of the season.

“Both teams played really hard with a lot of give and take,” McElroy said.

The break finally came after 25 minutes of hard-fought play when Johnson made a close-in shot, but the ball ricocheted off a defender and bounced back to him.

Immediately kicking it again, Johnson got it past the defense this time to score unassisted.

As the game entered the second half, Johnson scored a second goal with an assist by Hetzler.

Middle Park’s third goal was earned off a corner kick by Levett. Sheridan’s goalkeeper got a hand on the flying ball, but fumbled it. Reacting quickly, Hetzler blasted it into the net to score.

“Our guys played very aggressively,” McElroy said. “Kyle Potts came in as our goalkeeper after Ben Welcome got hurt and did a great job. Lucas Mendez, Jordan Lenhard, Max Meredith and Justin Coucke played good defense and closed down the other team in the final minutes.”

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