Niwot tops Regis Groff in playoff opener

Series: Niwot boys soccer | Story 4

November 6, 2019 | View PDF

Jocelyn Rowley

Junior Keegan Stobbe was tripped up early in the Niwot's playoff game against Regis Groff, but scored the game winner shortly thereafter.

Emotions were high on Niwot's bench after its shutout win over No.18 seed Regis Groff in the first round of the Class 4A soccer playoffs, and now head coach Stephen Dimit hopes to use that energy to carry his team through a deep postseason run.

"The relief came when we qualified, and now we're excited to be moving on," he said following the No. 15 Cougars' rousing 2-0 victory over the Fusion at Everly-Montgomery Field on Nov. 2. "I feel pretty good. We can play with anybody."

His team's performance against a fast and physical Regis Groff squad certainly supports that claim. The Cougars were sharp on both sides of the ball throughout the match, despite the absence of three key starters, including forward Aidan Martin, one of Niwot's more reliable scorers during the last weeks of the regular season. In their absence, a bevy of younger players-notably Jake Elston and Mason Wright- "stepped up and filled in the gaps," according to Dimit.

"It was a really good team win," he said. "Defensively, I thought we played really, really well. On offense, we didn't possess as much as we wanted to, but we adjusted to the game they gave us. It was very physical, but our guys kept their heads."

Admittedly, that was a challenge at times, memorably for forward Keegan Stobbe, who was tripped up in the 13th minute as he was headed with the ball towards the Fusion goal, and didn't get the call he was hoping for.

"I just got a little furious," he said. "But then I was like, 'Alright, I'll just keep playing'. Sure enough, right after that, I just followed off the keeper and got the easy tap in. That's something I always do, just follow off the keeper. You never know what's going to drop in."

Stobbe's goal put the Cougars up 1-0, with just over 27 minutes to go in the first half. Less than a minute later, sophomore Azael Marrufo took a pass from Ishmael Dominguez up the right sideline, and then beat a Regis Groff defender for an open shot to the far corner of the net. That gave Niwot a 2-0 lead that would stand for the rest of the game.

"Those two goals got us really excited," defender Manny Soto said. "We had everything against us. We had three starters not playing for us, but we managed to keep it together and win."

Alongside senior Andy Worrell, Soto anchored a Niwot defensive unit that allowed just a handful of shots on the day, even after a blitz by the Regis Groff attack in the opening minutes of each half.

"If you go up two in the first half in the playoffs, you'd better buckle up in the second, because they're going to throw everything at you," Dimit said. "They were super physical, but that just wasn't enough to beat us today."

Soto said the defense "communicated a lot" during the match, which was key to the shutout, along with a strong sense of cohesion among the group.

"We got their style of play in the first few minutes, and we organized, and we just talked it out and played it through. We all love each other and get along so well."

With the win, Niwot advanced to the round-of-16, where they will face No. 2 seed Golden on Nov. 5, and the Cougars are expecting another tough, physical match-up.

"We're going to be looking for a challenge," Stobbe said. "But we're going to keep doing what we've been doing-practice hard, train hard, and come in with a great attitude."

11/02--Niwot 2, Regis Groff 0

Fusion (10-5-1) 0 0 - 0

Cougars (11-5) 2 0 - 2

Goals - Stobbe, Marrufo

Assists - Dominguez, Osteen

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) - Javier Amaya (80-0-7)

Jocelyn Rowley

The Niwot defense survived an onslaught from the Regis Groff attack during the opening minutes of their match on Nov. 2.


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