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Air Academy players celebrate as goalie and captain Thomas Beatty holds the trophy after they defeated the Denver North Vikings 2-0 in the CHSAA 4A Boys Soccer State Championships held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday November 10, 2018 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette)

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COMMERCE CITY - The second consecutive Class 4A boys’ soccer state championship came a little easier than the first for Air Academy High School.

Saturday’s 2-0 win over third-seeded Denver North (16-2-2) was a stark contrast from last year’s 1-0 victory over Centaurus in extra time.

Senior goalkeeper Thomas Beatty would know after spending both of the championship games between the posts for the top-seeded Kadets (18-1-1).

“I was way more comfortable this year than last year’s nerve-wrenching final,” Beatty said.

“But the feeling is still the same.”

It took less than five minutes for the Kadets to get the only goal they would need, as senior Luke Louthan took a pass from cousin Thaddaeus Dewing, held off a Viking defender inside the box and shot the ball into the right side of goal for his 10th score of the season.

“Thad took a great touch in front of the guy, and I saw that he was getting kinda collapsed,” the senior forward said. “Thought the ball might pop out, so I just kinda charged on that and took my time once I got in the box and tried to place it in the back.”

The Kadets took that 1-0 lead to half after Beatty came up with a save on a rare Denver North scoring opportunity. A mis-touch from an Air Academy defender put a Viking attacker in on goal, but Beatty was quick to leave his line, eventually making his most important save of the match.

“I got as big as possible, tried to cut down the angle,” Beatty said. “I don’t know how great of a shot it really was, but I was able to make a good play on it.”

Air Academy wasted little time doubling the lead in the second half.

Dewing met sophomore Kameron Hooker’s corner kick on the far side of the 6-yard box and headed the ball back across goal and out of Viking keeper Bryan Torres’ reach in the 42nd minute to make the Kadets even more comfortable.

The promising junior's team-leading 27th goal of the season all but secured another state championship.

“It feels awesome,” Dewing said. “First off, all glory goes to God, but we’ve been working for this. Every single practice, every game has been leading up to this point, so it feels so good.”

The Kadets pushed for a third as Kelton Hooker, Kameron Hooker and Andrew Hess produced quality chances following Dewing’s header, but Kadets coach Espen Hosoien was happy with not only the 2-0 result but also the performance after his team left a little to be desired in the matches leading up to the final.

“Today, I felt we were doing everything we talked about before the game and pretty much the whole season. We kept our shape defensively. I thought we were dangerous going forward. We were composed on the ball; we played quick on the ball,” Hosoien said.

“I felt we controlled the game.”

Last year’s contest was much different, as Beatty had to face a penalty kick in the final minutes of regulation before Ryan Self scored the golden goal.

Players and Hosoien agreed the nervy 2017 final paid dividends en route to a more decisive 2018 championship.

“It definitely helped playing in it last year, because last year we were a little nervous going into it. We’d never really done it before. Coming back to this stadium, we were like ‘OK, we’ve done this before. We got this. If we give it 100 percent, no one can stop us,’” Louthan said.

"It just felt like everything we did all season came together for us right there. It was amazing.”

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