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FORT LUPTON – In the eyes of Francisco Arellano and the rest of the Fort Lupton Bluedevils soccer team, there is too much time …
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FORT LUPTON – In the eyes of Francisco Arellano and the rest of the Fort Lupton Bluedevils soccer team, there is too much time invested in this season to see it finish in the first round of the state soccer playoffs.
The game starts at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, at Mullen High School, 3601 S. Lowell Blvd. It was moved up a day because of impending bad weather.
“There’s no secret.” Arellano said after the Bluedevils qualified for the playoffs Oct. 18. “This whole summer, we worked hard. The team is ready to go to state. We’re a year older. We have more experience. The majority of this team is juniors and seniors. For those who played club (during the offseason), it’s working. Everybody who played club stepped up. That’s a big part of this team.”
Fort Lupton was seeded 28th in the field. That surprised coach Archie Suniga.
“Last year we finished 6-9 and were ranked 26th. This year we finished 9-6 and got ranked 28th,” he said. “But as I told the boys all season we have no control over the seeding/ranking decision. All we can control is winning soccer games. I emphasized that again as I shared the news with the team. Our objective has not changed. All we need to do is win.”
Through the regular season, Arellano leads the team with 17 goals. The next-highest were Angel Salcido and Jacob Posada with four. Jesus Manriquez was the goalkeeper for most of the season. His goals-against average was 2.75, and he recorded five shutouts. Jesus Arellano played goalie as well. He had 14 saves in limited duty, and he found time to score three goals.
“If we’re going to win state, it’s going to take more dedication and discipline,” Francisco Arellano said. “We have to work hard. We’re going to face tough teams in the state tournament. I’d like to see Longmont. We faced them last year. If everything works out, I hope we play them.” The Trojans finished 7-8 and didn’t qualify this year.
Suniga planned few changes for the one day of practice leading up to the playoff game.
“We will focus on our first touch and continue to work on moving the ball around quickly,” he said. “We are a possession team and we will continue to be a possession team. We will also work on our penalty kicks and find out who our top five shooters will be. There must be a winner in every game. If a game is tied after regulation and overtime it is settled by penalty kicks so we need to be ready for that aspect.”
The winner gets either Centaurus (12th seed, 7-7-1 this season) or Pueblo West (9-5-1, 21st seed) in the second round Oct. 29.
“We’ll keep working,” Francisco Arellano said. “The only thing the players can control is working hard.”
“To be honest we need to play perfect every game from this point on to get to where we want to be,” Suniga said. “I told the boys the last 15 games do not matter any more. This is a new, five-game season, and one loss will end the season. So we need to be at our best from this point on.”
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