Robby Jacobs slapped his hands together, yelled in joy and jumped into a group of his teammates as TCA stayed perfect by the skin of its teeth Tuesday night.
This was hardly the same Manitou Springs team the Titans have been accustomed to over the past couple of years.
On a dimly lit field at Manitou Springs High School, Jacobs led off the game by scoring his team-leading 13th goal of the season and set up the game-winner minutes later as TCA (9-0 overall, 1-0 3A Region 2) held on to beat Manitou Springs (8-1, 0-1) 2-1 in a prize fight between two unbeaten powerhouses that certainly didn't disappoint.
Jacobs, who took an even bigger role on offense with freshman Titus Young and his 12 goals sidelined for academic reasons, admitted he was surprised with how close the game ended after beating Manitou 9-0 around this time last season.
"That was really unexpected for me. I heard they'd improved, but they were really good," said Jacobs, who has scored in eight of the nine games this season.
"They even took it to us for a while there . It wasn't a rivalry last year, but now I think it's the best in the league."
His back-and-forth with Mustangs forward Sawyer Lincoln alone was well worth the price of admission Tuesday.
After Jacobs struck first with 20-yard laser in the 10th minute, followed by his bullet that deflected off the keeper for teammate James Larivee to make it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, it was finally Lincoln's turn.
He didn't disappoint either. The senior split defenders all game long, scored on a free kick with 5 seconds left in the first half and nearly netted what would have been the game-tying score when his 50-yard free kick late was barely tipped away by keeper Micah Mesward.
"I am baffled on how he still had the ball after some of his moves," TCA coach Blake Galvin said of Lincoln. "He is one special talent and gave one special performance out here."
Lincoln had four of the Mustangs' 10 shots, Jacobs had eight of TCA's 20, but neither player could find the back of the net throughout the second half thanks to highlight-reel saves from both keepers, Mesward and Carter Sandras of Manitou Springs.
"It was a great game," said a teary-eyed Lincoln, who didn't get his first win over TCA in his four-year career (0-3-1). "We're sad. I'm upset because I wanted this so bad. After being shut out by TCA for my whole career, I really wanted this one tonight. And I knew we had the team to do it. But credit them; they are a great, great team."
The two could face each other again if they meet in the 3A playoffs.