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Durango soccer earns No. 5 seed for state tournament

Demons open tournament Thursday against Erie
Sam Carozza of Durango High School controls the ball while playing Grand Junction High School this season. Carozza and DHS will enter the 4A playoffs as the No. 5 seed. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

After going 12-1-2 during the regular season, the Durango High School boys soccer team earned the No. 5 seed for the class 4A state championships.

The Demons will begin the playoffs Thursday when it hosts the No. 28 seeded Erie Tigers (7-6-2). The game is scheduled kick off at 5 p.m. at DHS.

The winner will play the winner of No. 12 D’Evelyn and No. 21 Summit in the second round Nov. 3.

Quarterfinals take place Nov. 6, followed by the semifinals Nov. 10 at the Cherry Creek School District’s Legacy Stadium. The championship game is Nov. 12 at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs.

The first three rounds will take place at the higher seed’s home field.

Other first round games in Durango’s quadrant of the bracket are No. 4 Denver North (12-1-2) vs. No. 29 Montrose (7-8-0) and No. 13 Pueblo Centennial (11-3-1) vs. No. 20 Palmer Ridge (7-6-2).

Grand Junction (10-5-0), the 5A/4A Southwestern League champion and only team that beat DHS this season, earned the No. 10 seed and will play No. 23 Steamboat Springs (7-7-1) in the first round.

Grand Junction went 7-1 in the SWL, and DHS finished second at 6-1-1. The teams split the two games they played, but Durango also tied league foe Fruita Monument.

Denver’s Northfield scored the tournament’s No. 1 seed after going 15-0 during the regular season. The No. 2 seed went to Denver’s Mullen (13-1-1) while The Classical Academy of Colorado Springs (14-1-0) received the No. 3 seed.

The Demons will take a four-game winning streak into the state tournament, including a 2-1 win at Montrose Friday in its finale.

“It wasn’t our prettiest performance of the year, but we got the result on the road,” said DHS head coach Aaron Champenoy. “Credit to Montrose. They came out and worked hard to make it a battle and limit our quality chances.“

Teryk Webber scored in the ninth minute to give Durango the early lead.

“I thought Teryk Webber played a very good game in the midfield, getting the first goal and was really effective on both sides of the ball,” Champenoy said.

Montrose, however, scored 13 minutes later to tie the contest at 1-1.

“We scored an early goal but didn’t settle in the rest of the first half very well and had a tough time controlling the possession that we have done so well this season,” the coach said.

Durango picked it up in the second half, and Ryan Bell ended up scoring what proved to be the game-winner in the game’s 47th minute.

The coach said Bell has been a “dependable player” for Durango all season.

“In the second half, we were better and started to open up their defense but didn’t get a lot of clean looks at goal,” Champenoy said. “We were solid defensively in the second half with our back-four and defensive mids doing the work.”

After the game, however, the coach said the team would need to get back to work to prepare for its opening game of the state tournament.

With 12 goals, Sam Carozza is Durango’s leading scorer this season. Cedar Newman has scored 10, and Niko Korte and Owen Carozza have both scored seven. Owen Carozza also has assisted a team-high seven goals.

An earlier version of this story misspelled Niko Korte’s last name.