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East High Soccer: No. 1 and No. 1

Success Is A Continuation Of A Near-Flawless 2016 Season

Photos and story by Reid Neureiter

Special to the GPHN

   On Oct. 10, Colorado’s No. 1-ranked Denver East Boys varsity soccer team won its 12th game out of 13 against the Far Northeast Warriors.

The Warriors were ranked number five in Colorado and the match represented a battle between two top teams in the Denver Public School League. East’s one loss was to a very skilled Kennedy High, also a DPS team.

East’s success this fall season is a continuation of their near flawless 2016 season, which featured a perfect 15-0 regular season and three playoff victories before a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Broomfield in the state semi-finals. That loss is motivator for this year’s group of seniors, a number of whom live within blocks of each other in the south section of Greater Park Hill.

East finished the season with a 14-1 record, and was the No. 1 ranked and No. 1 seeded team going into the State 5A playoffs, which began on Oct. 26 at East’s home field versus Arvada West High School.

East features a reliable high scoring offense led by All-State forward Senior Co-Captain Sam Carson. Through the game against Far Northeast, Carson has 13 goals and five assists, approaching his 17-goal tally from last year. Complementing Carson on the offense is Senior Eli Miller, a Park Hill resident who has nine goals of his own. Sophomore Park Hiller Zion Wagoner, who lives off Monaco Parkway near 26th Street, has worked himself into the starting lineup as wing forward and has played an important role providing service to Carson and Miller. Wagoner has eight assists and three goals to show for his efforts.

Although East does not lack for offense, the team’s signature characteristic is a tenacious defense led by Senior Co-Captain Luke Neureiter and fellow central defender Senior Nico Capella. Neureiter and Capella live just few blocks from each other near 19th Street in the east part of Park Hill. Neureiter and Capella patrol the center in front of the East goal both on the ground and in the air. For their height and aerial prowess, they are referred to as the “twin towers.” Their combined efforts have resulted in East giving up only six goals (against 44 scored) in 13 games with seven shut-outs.

In addition to being Park Hill residents, Neureiter, Capella, Miller, and Senior midfielder Will Hughes have something else in common. All four (along with Carson and Senior defender Bennett Jonas) played their youth club soccer for the Colorado Fusion, which evolved into the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club. These boys have spent literally years carpooling to youth soccer practices and games at Aurora Sports Park, Crestmoor Park, Lowry Sports Park, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The years of playing together are evident on the high school field as the team demonstrates an unusual degree of cohesion and confidence.

If East continues its dominating play in the two remaining regular season games against South High School and Lincoln High, the team will likely be given the number one seed for the state playoffs, which began in late October and will run through Nov. 12, when the State Championship match is scheduled at the Colorado Rapids’ home field at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

East finished the season with a 14-1 record. On Oct. 26, Denver East won the neutral playoff game against Arvada West by a score of 2-0.

The last of the three boys state championships for East High came in 2011, when Captain Luke Neureiter’s older brother Austin scored the second goal in a 2-0 victory against Heritage High. Neureiter hopes, with the help of his Park Hill friends and teammates, to repeat his older brother’s success.

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