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Student Athlete of the Week: Bo Gardner

Bo Gardner's first career postseason goal came at an opportune time for the Niwot High School boys soccer team.

Stuck in a 1-1 deadlock with Pueblo Centennial late in the second half, Gardner received an assist from fellow senior Josh Ary and netted the game-winner in Niwot's Class 4A first-round state playoff game on Oct. 26.

"It was definitely one of the top goals in my career," Gardner said.

Gardner, who scored five goals in the regular season, gave all the credit to Ary for setting him up in the right place.

"He (Ary) put me in a great position and it was an overall great team goal," Gardner said. "(I'm) super excited to have that moment and celebrate with the fans. It's a great team win and we're excited for next week."

The 11th-seeded Cougars are now set to face rival Skyline High School, the No. 6 seed, in Longmont on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Coming off an emotional win over Pueblo Centennial High School, Gardner said his Cougars have an added bit of confidence heading into their second-round matchup. They have redemption on their mind, too, as Niwot fell to Skyline by one goal in September.

"The team's super confident right now going into next week," Gardner said. "Last time we played Skyline in the regular season, we had a really disappointing loss in the final two minutes of the game. Going into this week, we've got a lot of confidence and we're really eager to get a chance to play them again."

As a senior, Gardner is aware that he's playing to keep his high school career alive in these state playoffs. The four-year varsity starter has grown close with his senior class, which includes Ary, Josh Rodriguez, Jett Feiner, Miles Verbeck and others.

"It's a great group of guys," Gardner said of his fellow seniors. "We're all super close with each other and that helps on the field as much as it does off the field, having each other's backs. Team chemistry is super important and the connections that we've made over the four years as a group together have really helped us be successful this year."

Gardner, however, will soon grow close with another group of teammates when he takes his talents to Claremont McKenna College in California next year. He made his commitment to the Division III Stags official in early September.

"I'm from California originally, so I really wanted to go back," Gardner said. "It's a top academic school, so that was another big factor. And then they're competing in the SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), which is a good conference in Southern California. It's high-level soccer, good academics and I just love the location. All in all, it was a really good fit for me."

But first, Gardner's goal is to keep his high school career going for as long as possible in the state tournament.


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