In first playoffs since 2012, Sand Creek boys' soccer boasts state aspirations

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Photo - Garret Kramer of Sand Creek points to the sky after scoring a goal over Coronado for the boys soccer season opener at Garry Berry Stadium on Thursday August 24, 2017 in Colorado Springs. Kramer contributed five of Sand Creek's ten goals which handed the win to Sand Creek as a result of the mercy rule. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
Garret Kramer of Sand Creek points to the sky after scoring a goal over Coronado for the boys soccer season opener at Garry Berry Stadium on Thursday August 24, 2017 in Colorado Springs. Kramer contributed five of Sand Creek's ten goals which handed the win to Sand Creek as a result of the mercy rule. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

For the first time in five years, the Sand Creek boys' soccer team is back in the playoffs.

But the Scorpions aren’t just happy to be in this position. They don’t expect to be one-and-done before spending the rest of the school year talking about their near-perfect regular season.

So, what are their expectations?

“To win state,” said senior Jesse Bridge. “Nothing less, in my eyes.”

That long, tough journey starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, when No. 11 Sand Creek (13-1-1) hosts No. 22 D’Evelyn of Denver (9-6) in the first round of the Class 4A tournament. The last time the Scorpions made the postseason was in 2012, when they beat Durango in the first round and then lost to Cheyenne Mountain 1-0 to finish 12-5 in Jeremy Tafoya’s second year as head coach.

This year, Sand Creek was nearly perfect. They had a double-overtime tie with Cheyenne Mountain and lost 4-1 to Air Academy, this year’s top seed.

In the latter game, the Scorpions played without their second-leading scorer in sophomore Alan Bautista, who has 23 goals. He was on a family vacation during Sand Creek’s final three games.

“He opens up the field for everyone,” Tafoya said about Bautista, who’s at Sand Creek for one year through a military exchange program. With Bautista’s presence, teammate and known scorer Garrett Kramer has been able to get more scoring opportunities. He leads the team with 29 goals.

The Scorpions said that with a strong team chemistry, they believe they can make it far in the postseason.

On Sept. 12, they topped Kennedy of Denver 4-1. Kennedy is ranked No. 2 in the state tournament, and the Sand Creek players and coaches said they feel like the nonconference win was a confidence-booster in their chase to becoming a state contender.

“Now our eyes have been opened and we’re definitely going to work for it,” Kramer said.