Tuesday night was more than just a notch in the win column for the Manitou Springs boys' soccer team. It was something the Mustangs hope takes them to the next level.
Behind goals from five players, Manitou Springs buried rival St. Mary's 5-1; marking the first time in the program's history it has defeated the Pirates.
"This is tremendous and it means a lot; I knew these guys were amped up for it all week," Manitou coach Ben Mack said. "We've come very close to beating them multiple times, and should've beaten them before, so to finish the job tonight means a ton for these guys."
The Mustangs (3-0) and their home crowd were ready to roll from the get-go. Sawyer Lincoln scored the game's opening goal in the 13th minute after a failed Manitou penalty-kick attempt.
St. Mary's (0-1) would answer in the 28th minute when Thomas O'Connor found the back of the net, but that would be the lone highlight for St. Mary's, as Manitou goalkeeper Carter Sandras took over.
"We came out with a lot of passion tonight and this win meant a lot to us," said Sandras, who saved seven of eight shots, including several superb stops. "Last year they smoked us 6-1, so it was nice to give them a little kick in the butt tonight. I couldn't be any more thrilled with my defense's performance tonight in front of me."
The Mustangs would take the lead for good in the 30th minute when Glenn Shoptaugh punched in a goal after a wild scramble in front of the net. Keegan Vernon would add Manitou's third goal just before the half.
Josh Elkington scored from 35 yards out with 12 minutes left in the game and Mitch Patterson put some icing on the cake in the 73rd minute to make it 5-1.
"It's a beautiful thing to be able to have five people who can step up and score," Vernon said. "To breathe in finally beating St. Mary's feels great, and I think this team can be a contender for a state title. We are balanced on both ends and can control the game, and having Carter back there makes it easier to push forward on offense."
Unlike Manitou, which had already played two games, St. Mary's was on the field for the first time this season. But coach Lou Sagastume wasn't discouraged by the early setback.
"We created quite a few scoring chances, so I was happy with that, especially in the first half," he said. "It's always difficult to play on this field, and right now Manitou has a better and more composed team than we do. But it's not how you start the season; it's how you finish it."