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East High Boys Fall To Broomfield 1-0

Bittersweet Finale For No. 1 Seeded Angels

Story and photos by Reid Neureiter

Special to the GPHN

On the evening of Nov. 11, Denver East Boys Varsity soccer squad fell one rung short in its effort to climb to the Colorado 5A state title at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. No. 1 seed East was going for its first title since 2011, and fourth overall, while No. 7 seed Broomfield was trying to secure a state record 7th soccer championship. The Angels fell in a close match, 1-0 and Broomfield has now won three of the past four Colorado 5A boys soccer titles.

If the winner’s trophy had been awarded based on crowd support, East would have won in a romp, with East fans doubling Broomfield’s supporters both in number and enthusiasm.

But the game was decided by the number of goals, not the size of the fanbase and Broomfield’s precise passing game and high pressing defense caused problems for East in the first half. Broomfield’s aggressiveness paid off 25 minutes into the match when Broomfield forward Michael Mooney, unmarked, collected the ball, rounded East keeper Victor Yague-Izquierdo and gave Broomfield the only goal it would need.

But East has been a second half team all season. Led by senior captains and four-years starters Sam Carson and defender Luke Neureiter, the Angels made some defensive adjustments, and dominated both possession and the number of chances on goal after the break.

East Junior Sammy Crippen had a 25 yard rocket effort that just missed the upper right corner, saved by an acrobatic stop by Broomfield’s keeper Jose Ogaz. Junior Marko Babiak also missed with a free kick over the bar.

To Broomfield’s credit, it did not “park the bus” in front of its goal by merely trying to protect its lead with a defensive game. Instead, the team tried hard for a second goal, allowing for a flowing half of soccer that had both teams coming close.

East’s Yague-Izquirdo had a number of miraculous saves himself, including pushing a late Broomfield effort onto the cross-bar. East’s offensive trio of Zion Wagoner, Eli Miller, and Carson put continuing pressure on the Broomfield back line, but the goal that had seemingly always come in prior games, just did not come this time.

East finished the season with an 18-2 record, and a 36-3 record over the past two years, with two of those three losses coming by one goal to Broomfield, (including in last year’s semi-final). Broomfield finished with a 17-2-1 record.

In an interview with the Denver Post, East Coach Kirk Bast congratulated his graduating seniors, who include defenders Nico Capella, Bennett Jonas, mid-fielders Will Hughes and Luca Bravo, forward Eli Miller, and Yague-Izquierdo in addition to Neureiter and Carson.

“I give a lot of credit to my seniors, because they re-established Denver East soccer to the greatness it had not too long ago,” Bast said.

For Bravo, there was particular poignancy in playing on the Colorado Rapids home stadium where the name of his father, former Colorado Rapids great Paul Bravo, is written high on the stadium wall just below the luxury boxes. Paul Bravo, along with former Rapids great Marcelo Balboa, was an inaugural member of the Rapids “Galley of Honor.”

While it may be difficult to replace the leadership and experience of this senior class, East is likely to be competitive again next year. More than 130 players had tried out for East’s varsity this season, and the East junior varsity squad, consisting of underclassmen who likely could have started for any number of varsity programs, went undefeated.

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