The Pine Creek boys' soccer team knew its patience would eventually pay off Tuesday night at District 20 Stadium.
The Eagles were controlling the tempo of their 5A Metro League opener against Doherty and bombarding Spartans goalie Nick Pallisco repeatedly.
Just as coach Ben Corley stood calm and composed on the sideline without a hint of worry, the Eagles - an upperclassmen-heavy squad with only one underclassman - stuck to their system, and in the 19th minute they finally broke through when Ryon Depinet batted home a rebound to spark Pine Creek to a 5-0 victory.
Depinet broke the scoreless game following a Nic Bannister corner kick that was initially headed by Jayvier Morales, leading to a skirmish in front of the Doherty net.
"It was just a corner and it was a great ball back," Depinet said. "It came to Jay, and I probably could have let Jay have it, and he shot it to make sure it went into the net and I put it in."
It was a crucial goal for Pine Creek (6-1 overal, 1-0 league) in a matchup featuring the last two 5A CSML champions.
"Sometimes it's hard to play loose soccer until you get that first one in," Corley said. "Ryon anticipated where to be and was able to punch it in."
The Pikes Peak region 5A No. 1 Eagles have won six in a row and demonstrated why they are one of the stronger teams in the area by controlling possession most of the game, as No. 3 Doherty (3-2-1, 0-1) hung around in the first half, thanks in large part to Pallisco.
Pallisco made an acrobatic save two minutes prior to Depinet's goal when he robbed a dribbling and dancing Jack Reynolds on a floater high toward the top-right corner.
However, the lack of offensive control eventually got to the inexperienced Spartans and the young team collapsed in the second half after Bannister scored the first of four second-half goals.
"Nick showed tonight the capabilities that he is a fantastic shot stopper," Doherty coach Jon Shub said. "The youth on our team definitely showed tonight. The lack of varsity experience for the majority of my players showed tonight."
In comparison, Bannister said the fact that most of the Eagles were members of last year's state quarterfinalists helps them in pressure situations.
"To have the composure in that final third, it really shows our character and how we always keep going (and) keep going," Bannister said. "Even if we miss one, we keep going and staying positive and end up putting it away."
The junior also credited Pine Creek starting goalie David Meyer with bringing a calming presence in the box.
"Dave Meyer is one of the best keepers in the state - if not the best keeper in the state," said Bannister, after the Eagles' third straight home shutout. "He has kept us alive for many games and is just a phenomenal player."
The cohesiveness Pine Creek demonstrated Tuesday night, combined with the team's composure, may be a recipe for success going forward.
"There is a lot of composure with these guys because they are upperclassmen," Corley said, "and this is a year they want to be special."