The look on the faces of the Windsor players said everything. Minutes after the final whistle of the second round playoff game against Niwot the Wizards sat quietly, staring into space, thinking about what could have been.
Windsor, the No. 10 seed, lost to the No. 7 seeded Cougars 2-1. But after the first 40 minutes it looked like a different finish might be in the script for the Wizards.
Niwot came out early and carried most of the play and created most of the chances. But Windsor was able to keep a lot of the play well away from goal and slowly work themselves into the game.
Then with three minutes remaining in the half Ryan Kurtz slotted a perfectly-weighted through ball for Christian Johnson, who lashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net to give Windsor a 1-0 lead and momentum at halftime.
The Wizards knew that the punch-back would be coming.
“We knew they were going to come out strong,” captain Brandon Lind said. “You put in a goal that late in the half against that team and they’re going to come out swinging next half.”
Sure enough Niwot came out flying to begin the second half, and the reward was almost immediate.
Just four minutes in the Cougars earned a penalty kick. Striker Danny Witt stepped up and calmly deposited into the back of the net to tie the game.
Niwot then was able to keep the momentum rolling and carry the play, creating numerous chances before the breakthrough came just 10 minutes after tying the game.
Witt took the ball down the wing before crossing it for a headed goal by Carlos Dominguez.
“I saw Carlos coming in from outside of the box and decided to get it in,” Witt said. “Luckily he was there and did a great job to get it in. It was a great header.”
Niwot (14-3) now advances to the quarterfinals after winning two close games. The Cougars won their first round game against Denver West in overtime.
“This team finds ways to win,” Niwot coach Rob Johnson said. “I can’t ask for anything else, they just find ways to win.”
For Windsor it was a disappointing finish to a season that began with 12 straight wins and ended with a Tri-Valley Conference championship.
“The boys are obviously disappointed right now, and they should be,” coach Phil Weiser said. “I think that when they’ve had a chance to step away from it and reflect, they’ll be very proud of what they accomplished. This is a good, hardworking group and they should be proud of what they’ve done.”
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