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Air Academy goalie Thomas Beatty, right, celebrates with his team after they beat Glenwood Springs 3-1 during the 4A soccer state semifinals Wednesday in Aurora.

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So far, the Class 4A boys’ soccer tournament has been filled with drama.

And it’s a safe bet that this year’s finalists aren’t simply going to let the other win without a battle.

There’s too much at stake.

No. 1 Air Academy (17-1-1) takes on No. 3 Denver North at 11 a.m. Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. This is the Kadets’ ninth appearance in the state title game; they captured the 5A crown in 1990 and were 4A champions in 2010, 2014 and 2017.

Last year, Air Academy won in dramatic fashion. It wasn’t until the 92nd minute that the Kadets escaped with the 4A title over Centaurus, prompting a jubilant celebration with friends and family in the stands.

The Kadets are one victory from repeating as state champions. If they win Saturday, they’d be the first 4A team in Colorado to do so in the 21st century. The last team to do this was Dakota Ridge in 1997 and ‘98.

And once again, Air Academy is loaded with talent. Thad Dewing leads with 26 goals; his last two in the Kadets’ 3-1 win over No. 20 Glenwood Springs in Wednesday’s semis. Adin Schwenke is second with 11.

Meanwhile, Denver North (16-1-2) has been dominant throughout the playoffs. No teams have scored against the Vikings — though the road to their first state title berth hasn’t been easy.

Denver North finally scored in the 48th minute against No. 7 The Classical Academy in the semifinals. It got harder from there, as the Titans continued a relentless offensive attack, but the Vikings ultimately survived with a 1-0 win.

In other words, these two teams won’t go down without a fight.

“We are equally as hungry as last year,” Air Academy coach Espen Hosoien told The Gazette in September.

Reporter

Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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