Pine Creek stays calm to rally against Grand Junction

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In an instant, No. 9 Pine Creek found itself trailing by a goal at home to the No. 24 seed in the Class 5A boys' soccer tournament.

The Eagles had several quality chances, but the minutes ticked by and still they trailed.

Then came a moment of brilliance, a shot off a post, a rebound and a perfect pass.

The Eagles tied the game with less than two minutes left in the half and went on to beat Grand Junction 3-2 at District 20 Stadium in the first round of the state playoffs.

Pine Creek will play the winner between No. 8 Fort Collins and No. 25 Lakewood, which was played later Thursday night.

The Eagles scored twice in a span of five minutes on either side of the break to grab a 2-1 lead.

When Andrew Turk slotted home a shot with 5:54 to play it was an insurance goal the Eagles didn't think would end up being the game-winning goal.

The early deficit didn't cause the Eagles to panic.

"We weren't worried at all," Turk said. "We had those chances and we were a little disappointed not to take them. But we knew we were right in the game and could compete with them on a daily basis. We just kept plugging away and kept doing what we knew we could do."

Less than two minutes after Turk's goal, the Tigers scored on a penalty kick. It was one of the few chances the Eagles surrendered as the defense clamped down in the second half.

"I feel like we picked it up a lot," center back Cameron Leichner said, braced by a pair of crutches. "I feel like we changed, we communicated more as a whole and didn't have as many gaps."

Leichner will have six days to get healthy, since the second round isn't until Wednesday.

By then, the Eagles should have their playoff jitters well in the rear-view mirror.

Those early jitters were apparent when a harmless throw-in and a quick header by Sam Flynn put the Eagles in a hole less than five minutes in.

But a break down the left wing led to an Eagles shot that clanged off the left post right to Mitch Cutts. Rather than shoot, Cutts, settled the ball and dished to Christian Seaquist for the easy tap in with 1:35 left in the half.

Just 2:45 into the second half, Jakob Ervin and Turk worked a give and go that saw Ervin finish by putting the ball in the net for a 2-1 lead.

"To their credit, they stepped up and really tried to press us to keep us from playing out of the back," Eagles coach Ben Corley said. "We had first-round nerves. It's the roughest first half in a lot of ways. I was just really glad the guys stayed positive and found a goal right before half. Scoring that goal right before halftime really changes the halftime talk a lot."