ARVADA — A 1-1 tie was a win for Wheat Ridge’s boys soccer team Thursday night at the North Area Athletic Complex

“The mentality was to play our game,” Wheat Ridge first-year head coach Nathan Craner said of the Farmers’ focus coming into the game that would decided the league champion once again.

The Farmers were almost in the same exact position it was a year ago with the Class 4A Jeffco League title on the line. Wheat Ridge took a 4-2 victory over Golden at Lakewood Memorial Field last year to win the conference title.

The change this season was a tie against rival Golden this time around was good enough to give Wheat Ridge (10-2-3, 6-1-1 in 4A Jeffco) a second straight conference title.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

“It feels great. I’m just lost for words right now,” Wheat Ridge sophomore Jacob Harrison said after the Farmers were presented the league trophy after a 1-1 tie against the Demons. “It’s amazing.”

Golden (7-5-3, 5-1-2) knew it needed a win to grab the league title away from Wheat Ridge. The Demons dominated possession early in the first half and a goal by senior Flynn Halsor gave Golden a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

However, Harrison tied things up 1-1 with a low shot that got past Golden junior goalie Garett Kula in the 31st minute.

“I just saw it and went for it. It paid off,” Harrison said of seeing an opening and firing in the game-tying goal late in the first half. “I know I can shoot the ball from long (range). I just took it.”

Craner had a feeling that Harrison, who had also played back on defense earlier in the season, would deliver being moved back up to forward.

“That was huge. We needed something and we knew Jacob could do it,” Craner said. “We knew having him up top he could do it.”

Both defenses and goalies held their ground in the scoreless second half. Halsor had a prime opportunity in the 72nd minute to score his second goal and give the Demons the lead, but his shot sailed just wide.

Golden had a direct free kick just outside the goalie box in the final minute, but senior back-up goalie Ryder McKay made the save and cradled the ball to maintain the tie.

“I love that guy so much,” Harrison said of McKay.

McKay was pressed into action after starting senior goalie Bryan Vera Ruiz had to sit in the final regular-season and league game after receiving a red card in the Farmers’ 5-0 win over Dakota Ridge on Monday.

“That isn’t really the position he plays,” Craner said of the Farmers’ back-up goalie in his first start of the season. “He had heart and showed up in a really big way, he’s definitely the Farmer MVP for tonight’s game.”

McKay was a big part in helping the Farmers wrap up the league title and continue Wheat Ridge’s undefeated streak. The Farmers have went 6-0-1 in its final seven regular-season games after an opening league loss to D’Evelyn.

“Coming back we had a target on our back this year and we had a lot of coaching change over,” Craner said referring to last year’s head coach Nate Flack leaving. “What was build before was an amazing program. Coming into some big shoes it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about the coaching staff. It was about these players and the heart they put into this.”

That heart and determination helped Wheat Ridge to back-to-back 4A Jeffco titles. The last team to pull of the repeat was Golden in 2018 and 2019.

“It is great because our seniors get to go out with another league title,” Harrison said. “I feel it is great for the community because we need more players to come out. I think it is great.”

Next up will be the postseason for Wheat Ridge. The Farmers were No. 18 in the 4A boys soccer CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index after the win. Just one slot ahead of Golden. It is likely that Wheat Ridge and Golden will be on the road for the opening round of the 32-team playoffs field Thursday, Oct. 26.

“We are telling these boys that the sky is the limit,” Craner said. “Every inch, every minute on the pitch is where we focus. It’s an absolute blessing to be out on this pitch.”