The Salida High School boys’ soccer team was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday by No. 1-ranked Jefferson Academy, playing in Littleton.

“We played extremely well,” coach Ben Oswald said. “I’m curious to see if any other teams hold them to three goals. They are a very balanced team, competitive but good sportsmen.”

Oswald said the Spartans held the ball away from the Jaguars for a full two minutes at the beginning of the game. 

“They were shocked – you could see it in their faces,” Oswald said. “It was a fun game to watch.” 

Once they gained control of the ball, however, the Jaguars quickly put two shots into the Spartan goal and headed into halftime up 2-0, Oswald said.

“They had one incredibly gifted athlete who could really dribble the ball,” Oswald said. “He was their quickest player and difficult to contain.” 

Oswald said they didn’t have any illusions coming into the game. 

“We thought we might get a penalty kick inside the box. If we sink that, it’s 2-1 and anyone’s game,” Oswald said. “We didn’t get the call, but it was a close game, anything could have happened.”

Oswald said he couldn’t really pick any one player as his “man of the match,” because everyone put in such a great effort.

“All of the seniors did a great job,” he said. “Kaiden (Veach), Riggs (Gorby), Arlo (Follet), these guys played their hearts out. (Goalkeeper) Quinn (Phillips) had a phenomenal night. Not many guys around the league could stop the goals they shot. Just hats off to all the guys.”

Oswald also praised the play of junior Antonin Breunel, a French exchange student, who had wanted to play the whole season at Salida, but due to COVID-19 visa problems, only made the last few games.

“He only played three games with us, but he was really starting to figure out what we were doing,” Oswald said. “It’s really too bad he couldn’t have got a full year in. It would have been a completely different season.”

Several younger players also stepped up this season, Oswald said, playing due to injuries or lack of depth. He said freshman Axel Sather really added to the team and played well under pressure, while sophomore Conner McConathy has really grown as a player this season. He called them the future go-to guys.

Oswald offered a big thank you to the booster club for supplying the team with goodie bags for the trip and the parents who supplied food from MO Burrito for the team.

He also thanked the Salida school transportation department, for driving the team around all season.

“They put in an incredible amount of time and energy,” Oswald said. “They really stepped up to the plate.”