Fountain Valley’s hero Saturday afternoon in a Class 2A boys’ soccer quarterfinal will have plenty to tell his family over FaceTime, once they wake up.
Sophomore midfielder Phan Anh Dao put the second-seeded Danes (12-4) into the state semifinals, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Ridgway, the seven seed, Saturday afternoon at the boarding school. They were just the fourth and fifth goals of the season for the Vietnamese sophomore.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be here and go to the semifinals.”
Each of Dao’s goals came at a good time.
In the opening minutes, he followed Aly Kassam’s shot from a tight angle that was spilled back into play by the Ridgway keeper before the sophomore buried a rebound with his first touch.
“The first goal came at a great time, early in the game,” Danes coach Kevin Ray said. “That settled the nerves a little bit.”
The Danes pushed for a two-goal advantage later in the first half, as Kassam finished a nice individual run with a quality shot from distance, only to see the Ridgway goalie touch it over the crossbar. Moments later, junior Toby Brown got his head to a well-placed cross only to see his attempt end up just wide of goal.
Working with 1-0 advantage for most of the game, the nerves appeared to creep back in, as the Demons did well marking Kassam, who entered with 28 goals, and the rest of the Fountain Valley attack for the remainder of the first half and much of the second half.
“He’s a marked man,” Ray said of the team’s leading scorer.
“The deeper we knew we were going to go in state, the harder it was going to be for him. The beauty is that we have players like Phan, Riki Fujimoto, Shuto (Ushijima). These are players that are dangerous as well.”
Ridgway’s best chance to equalize came with roughly 15 minutes to play as it earned a set piece just outside the penalty area. Leading scorer Robert Beserra stood over the ball, but the Demons opted for a lay off to a centerback who blasted his try wide of goal.
That was the Demons’ final opportunity before Dao again found himself in on goal. This time he took a touch toward, bringing the Ridgway keeper off his line before slotting home the goal that served as Fountain Valley’s reservations for the semifinals.
“We were a little nervy,” Ray said of his team in the second half. “We kind of were knocking the ball long, which is really not our style, but when we got the second goal it eased the nerves and pushed us home.”
His second goal came around 4:30 Mountain time Saturday afternoon, while his family back in Vietnam was in the wee hours on Sunday morning.
“I might FaceTime them tonight,” Dao said.
The Danes are set to face sixth-seeded Telluride next Saturday.