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The Elizabeth boys soccer team gave as good as they got in the Aug. 24 season opener at home against Wheat Ridge. The fast-paced play ranged up and down the field and at the end of the second half the score was tied 3-3. Play went into overtime until the Farmers scored a goal to beat the Cardinals on their own field 4-3.
“We are basically a young team. This is our first game so you just have to see what happens,” Elizabeth coach Stephen Salansky said after the game. “I am proud of the way we played tonight against a very good Wheat Ridge team. I am proud of how our guys stepped up and fought really hard the whole game. Our defense was exceptional. They impressed and surprised me.”
The Farmers mounted repeated attacks throughout the game. They took 41 shots on goal. However the Cardinals defense repeatedly turned back the attacks and Elizabeth goalie Dylan Handlovitch was outstanding and made 21 saves.
Wheat Ridge scored 12 minutes into the game and the Cardinals tied it up with 11 minutes left in the half on an unassisted goal by Colin Steinke. Wheat Ridge went ahead about five minutes later and Elizabeth made the score 2-2 when Tyler Whitley took a pass from Steinke and put the ball in the net.
The Farmers went up 3-2 in the second half. Elizabeth again responded as Whitley put the ball in the back of the net when he beat the Wheat Ridge goalie to a ball across the mouth of the goal. Late in the period it appeared the Cardinals scored a go-ahead goal but it was waved off because it happened after a whistle-stopping play for an injured player. The score remained tied 3-3 through the remainder of the half to set up the 10-minute, sudden-death overtime. Wheat Ridge scored two minutes into the overtime to win the game.
Whitley, a senior, said the season opener is always an emotional game.
“We are a fairly young team and I wasn't sure how we would do in the first game of the season. But everyone stepped up and I felt we did really well,” he said. “We played hard. It was a physical game but we handled it well. We fell short but our team put in a great effort and that is a plus for us going forward in the season.”
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