File, The Gazette

The five-minute drill. 

Cheyenne Mountain uses a pair of situations, both with five minutes left on the clock, in practice. Sometimes, the Red-Tailed Hawks play with the aggression of a one-goal deficit. Other times, they contain with a one-score lead. 

The situations are meant to sharpen a team that starts sophomores along the back line and in goal. More importantly, it is meant to mimic the pressure of the postseason, and the players treat it as such. 

Grand Junction had to do a five-minute drill of its own, down a goal to Cheyenne Mountain with a dwindling clock. The Red-Tailed Hawks' experience paid dividends as they held on for a 1-0 win at home in the 4A boys' soccer playoffs. 

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"We do it throughout the year, and really emphasis the drills in the postseason," coach Brian Jewell said. "They know exactly what we're trying to do. Whether it's pressing or getting the ball to the corner to run the clock, we want to be cool with the ball." 

In their efforts to stay strong, sporting a underclass back quartet, the Red-Tailed Hawks have yet to allow a goal through 160 playoff minutes. 

It marks the longest scoreless streak for Cheyenne Mountain's defense since its three-game streak to begin October. 

"I think our defense has put its heart out here," sophomore goalkeeper Jackson Bufkin said. "It's great that they can block shots and work really hard. When they get beat, I do my best to cover for them." 

The defense and situational play has been needed for the group. They've scored 35 goals in 17 games. For comparison, Grand Junction entered the contest with 59 in one fewer game. 

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Cheyenne Mountain has adjusted to its reality and played to it. Senior Jonathan Diaz Mendoza has proved to be all it's needed. He scored once again Wednesday — keeping his playoff scoring streak alive and bringing his season total to six. 

"We haven't finished at a real high clip all year," Jewell said. "It's just not a strong suit of ours. We've been really clinical in the second half and found goals when we needed them. We probably had the ball 70 percent of the time and at some point, maybe the luck will break our way as well.

"We're just happy to win." 

Jewell's crew nearly added to its lead multiple times. With 35 minutes left, back-to-back chances for the team went wide and high. Diaz Mendoza nearly nailed in a free kick with 22 minutes left, too. 

No. 2 Mullen awaits in the quarterfinals. It won its first two games of the tournament a combined 13-1. 

The Cheyenne Mountain defense will be stressed early and often. If the first two games are any indication, its defenders and goalkeeper won't sweat too much. 

They've prepared for this.