Golden shot sends EHS to Elite 8

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By Michael Hicks

LAKEWOOD — It’s a play that the Evergreen Cougars work on all the time. Ethan Jackson dribbles the ball down one sideline before crossing it over to the back post. This time, Danny Golden happened to be on the receiving end. Now all the Evergreen junior needed to do was put the ball into the back of the net.
Easy enough, right?
“I saw that Matt was getting wide. We practice on those runs back post all the time. I made my run to the back post. I was wide open. I was screaming for it. I saw the ball coming. I don’t even know. The world blacked out. I just focused on the ball, made contact with it and before I knew it the ball was in the back of the net,” Golden said.
The game’s lone goal in the 48th minute past Golden goalkeeper Jack Nespor helped Jeffco League champion Evergreen post a 1-0 victory over the rival Demons at Lakewood Memorial Field on Oct. 27 in the second round of the 4A boys soccer state playoffs. The Cougars (13-1-3) advance to play sixth-seeded Battle Mountain (17-0) in the quarterfinals on Nov. 1 at EHS. Evergreen beat the Huskies 3-1 in last year’s state quarterfinals.
The fact that Golden, the player, nearly blacked out wasn’t all that surprising to Evergreen head coach Peter Jeans. It was a high-pressure situation in an electric atmosphere that is the postseason.
“You could say it’s an easy finish, but a guy’s still got to finish. He made a perfect finish on a perfect ball, and that’s the game-winner. So we move on,” Jeans said.
It’s the Cougars’ second straight 1-0 playoff victory. Evergreen hasn’t allowed a goal in five consecutive games.
This game — a far cry from the teams’ 0-0 deadlock 11 days earlier that snapped Evergreen’s 25-game regular-season conference winning streak — could be characterized as both physically demanding as much as it was about the Cougars getting back to their aggressive, ball-control offense. EHS took 23 shots.
“The first time we played Golden we had a walking wounded. We were sick. Twenty of 20 guys had some kind of flu,” Jeans said. “Today, we felt like we could get in behind them, we could play direct, and we could expose them. We had speed and we have some technical guys to get the ball to our speed players. We did that much better today than we did against Golden two weeks ago.”
That said, the physical nature of this game took its toll. The teams combined for 28 fouls — 20 on Golden. Evergreen’s Ethan Jackson, who leads the team with 13 goals and six assists, suffered a potential broken nose and a late ankle injury that eventually sidelined him. He expects to be back for the Battle Mountain game.