For 76 minutes, the top-ranked boys' soccer team in the 4A playoffs pushed and shoved, but they couldn't knock down No.?16 Silver Creek's back line.
Then the break came. A patient pass by sophomore Blake Doran. A quick pass from Brittain Romes. And the finishing touch from striker Austin Dewing.
No.?1 Air Academy earned its 1-0 win at Air Academy on Tuesday, advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
"They were very underrated, they were a great team," said Dewing, who was often double-teamed before scoring his team-best 21st goal.
Air Academy will host No.?8 Battle Mountain either Friday or Saturday.
Air Academy dominated possession and outshot the Raptors 8-2. Two of those shots were stopped by defenders. The Kadets put another 11 shots wide of the net.
But Air Academy (16-1) couldn't shake loose.
Even when Silver Creek (10-6-1) striker Cameron Guzman, who entered the game with a team-high 19 goals, went down with an ankle injury in the first half, the Raptors refused to go away.
Luis Moreles nearly changed the complexion of the game when he had an open goal and the ball bouncing to him. But Moreles put the shot wide, and the game remained scoreless with 29 minutes left.
As the game wore on, players and coaches on the Air Academy side started to wonder.
"I thought the same thing, the longer this game stays 0-0, it doesn't take long for them to score," Kadets coach Espen Hosoien said.
Then Hosoien went to his bench. On came Doran, just his second appearance in the game and his first time on the field in the second half. He helped create one chance almost immediately. Minutes later, he had the ball again. The sophomore showed patience when he turned and dished to Romes. That play allowed Dewing to break free and Romes found him.
"He was kind of my last try," Hosoien said. "And he was involved in the goal. That's the depth that we have."
The Raptors were a challenge.
"It can get frustrating," said captain Alex Granados, who worked the ball through the middle and out to the wings to generate offense. "We dominate the majority of the game and they have very few chances attacking-wise. But just in the final third it gets frustrating not being able to create anything to where we can have the lead the majority of the game."
The Kadets are hoping for more scoring next time out.
"We keep going from here," Dewing said, "and hopefully win the next one by a little more."