DENVER - The Classical Academy walked into its 3A semifinal as the underdog.
The No. 3-seeded Titans faced 3A Tri-Peak champion and No. 2 seed Salida at All City Stadium. TCA avenged its only loss and reached the title game after a 1-0 victory over Salida on Wednesday to set up a showdown Saturday against No. 1 seeded Colorado Academy.
"The big thing was we needed to come out with more intensity and better pressure," Titans coach Blake Galvin said. "We did that and played much better in this game."
Salida defeated TCA 3-2 earlier this season.
Through the first 10 minutes of the rematch, it was obvious a physical battle was in store. After two corner kicks, one from each team, TCA freshman Jeremy Baldes woke things up. In the 10th minute, Baldes shot from far left of goalkeeper Derek Husvet. It bounced off the right goal post and back to Baldes.
One minute later, Baldes tried again at an upper-deck shot but the shot bounced off the left post.
The only scoring came when Titans sophomore Robbie Jacobs redirected a bounce pass to the right corner of the Spartans' net in the 20th minute.
Salida scoring-leader Nick Thayer had a solid scoring opportunity stopped by Titans' junior keeper Micah Mesward from inside the 16-meter box.
The Spartans put pressure on with five minutes remaining, but Mesward made a key save against junior Dustin Linza, who broke loose.
"We were just trying to keep our defense organized, trying to keep them playing to the very end and not give up a stupid goal," Mesward said. "We are good enough right now. We have some things we have to fix in the next game, but if we play the best we are capable of, we have a shot at this."
Mesward had five saves.
"We've got eight freshmen and sophomores," Galvin said. "This is a lot of pressure for kids that age, leading a team like this. I'm pleased with the way they have handled this and the way they are carrying themselves. They play with class and integrity and they are playing well."