Air Academy stays unbeaten with win over The Classical Academy in boys’ soccer state semifinal

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Photo - Air Academy midfielder Calvin Yocum jumps into the stands to celebrate with students after Air Academy defeated The Classical Academy 2-0 in 4A semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, Colo.  The Kadets will play in the finals Saturday. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Air Academy midfielder Calvin Yocum jumps into the stands to celebrate with students after Air Academy defeated The Classical Academy 2-0 in 4A semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, Colo. The Kadets will play in the finals Saturday. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

AURORA - Air Academy's perfect season lived on while The Classical Academy's state title defense finally came to an end.

Kristian Hooker converted a penalty kick and had an assist as the top-seeded Kadets improved to 19-0 on the year with a 2-0 semifinals victory over the fifth-seed Titans on Wednesday.

Luke Louthan also scored and keeper Thomas Beatty made four saves as Air Academy will look to claim its fourth state title in program history with a win over No. 7 Centaurus in the 4A finals at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.

In addition to that, one more win gets the Kadets to 20-0 for the second time in four years. Their last immaculate year was in 2014 when they beat then-4A newbie TCA in the finals.

"I think for us as a team it's a big motivational thing that we just don't want to break an undefeated season," said Beatty, whose brother Mark was a part of the 2014 squad. "We know it's something special and doesn't happen too often."

Air Academy's win snapped TCA's run of four straight finals appearances.

The Titans (17-2) were back in state contention even after graduating 11 seniors from their 2016 championship squad. It ended with their second defeat this year to the Kadets.

"Unbelievable," said TCA coach Blake Galvin, whose team lost to Air Academy 3-2 in overtime in August. "While it really hurts to end the season this way, in some ways that we ended at this point, that we got to where we did - amazing."

Air Academy took the lead in the 20th minute as Ryan Self set up a PK for Hooker.

Self squirmed into the box with a series of nifty moves through the back line but was knocked to the ground before he could take a shot. Hooker finished the ensuing penalty into the lower left of the net.

"I don't know how Ryan did it," Hooker said. "He went through like five people."

The Titans had opportunities to tie the game in the following moments - none better than Aaron Peck's shot at the top of the box that clanked off the opposite post.

Instead, the Kadets made it 2-0 at halftime when Louthan put away Hooker's cross in the 36th.

"It just didn't fall for us," Galvin said. "It's the way the game goes."

Air Academy was eager to turn the page from the pressures and stresses that undeniably accompany striving for perfection. For perspective reasons, Air Academy coach Espen Hosoien told his team the playoffs would be a new beginning.

"It's a five-game season and we started the season 0-0," Hosoien said. "We're obviously now 4-0 with a chance to be 5-0. ... These guys mentally know what it takes."

The 4A final is slated for 10:30 a.m.