GREENWOOD VILLAGE – It was a benchmark victory, complete with historical references as well as sending a shock wave or two through multiple classifications of the sport.
No doubt it’s real – Mullen beat Cherry Creek 3-2 in Centennial League play at Stutler Bowl on a pleasant Saturday in late March that also came with what could be described as semblances of a legitimate crowd during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as a Mustangs student section.
Was it memorable? You bet – Class 4A Mullen, now 2-0 in this new Season C, hadn’t beaten 5A Cherry Creek, Colorado’s largest school, since at least 2009, as the Mustangs were 0-9-2 against the Bruins in the previous 11 matches.
Thorough? The Mustangs never trailed, didn’t blink late when the Bruins (2-2) finally generated periods of sustained pressure and clearly carried most of the play.
And sweet? No Mustangs player may have had this much of a sugar rush.
“It was awesome,” an elated Mullen head coach Matthew Guglielmo said. “For years, we say things like ‘The league, the league, the league, they’re bigger …’ but maybe it’s time for us to get some W’s.
“I have some really good soccer players, some really good guys and athletes, and we spent a lot of time in preseason training. We’ve scored nine goals (Mullen earlier beat Overland 6-0) in two games, two league games; not playing 4A teams. We hadn’t beaten them, but we outplayed them. I thought we did.”
After a scoreless first half in which Guglielmo said he thought his team could have had a 3-0 lead over the first 5 minutes, senior A.J. Gamueda scored twice. He gave Mullen a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute, cleaning up one from out front, and a 3-1 bulge in the 64th, when he gathered a long pass from defender Cole Dempsey, beat a Bruins defender who he said was a former Mullen student one-on-one while flying down the right side and rifled one to the far post from about 15 yards.
“I just put it away,” Gamueda said.
Good thing – after his first goal, the Bruins tied it at 1 inside a minute later. Mullen also had a goal disallowed, but regained its lead on an own goal by Cherry Creek in traffic in front of the goal, a pinball shot. Gamueda’s second score proved to be the winner as the Bruins surprisingly struck from 50 yards on a well-placed, bullet of a shot in the 78th minute.
“This is a good statement,” Gamueda said, “with what this team is bringing this year. We knew we would have opportunities. We’re underrated. This team is never satisfied and you’ll see that later in the season.”
Asked if he believed his team could handle the Bruins and perhaps record the loudest victory early in the new, shorter season, Guglielmo said “I did, total belief. I think always that we’ll be successful and I tell them that. We never talk about what the opposite of winning would be … it’s just go out there and do it.”
And as to where this one ranks with the coach in command of the program since 2011, he concluded: “One of the better wins definitely … I don’t even know … maybe the girls beating Arapahoe (in 2019, as he has led that team since 2015), but on the boys side I don’t know that there has been a better victory.”
MULLEN 3, CHERRY CREEK 2
Mullen 0 3 -- 3
Cherry Creek 0 2 -- 2
1, A.J. Gamueda, 39th minute; 2, own goal Cherry Creek, 63rd minute; 3, A.J. Gamueda, 76th minute.