COMMERCE CITY | The game of soccer has many descriptors, including the most beautiful game.
It is also known as the most cruel game where even domination isn’t sure to be rewarded with victory, as the Regis Jesuit boys soccer team experienced Friday night in the Class 5A state championship game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Coach Rick Wolf’s resurgent Raiders — playing for the state championship for the first time since 2008 — suffered their only loss of the season in Colorado in a 1-0 defeat to Broomfield in a game that came down to the results of a penalty kick early in the second half.
While Regis Jesuit (16-2-2) had the vast majority of the dangerous chances and a significant amount of possession in wide open play on the home pitch of the Colorado Rapids, the Eagles — who won the final for the fourth time in six seasons and claimed their state record eighth boys soccer championship — got the fortune of a kick that ultimately made the difference.
In the 55th minute, Broomfield got a ball in front of the Raiders’ goal and the referee deemed the play of defender Tanner Scarth to warrant a yellow card.
The call set up a penalty kick that was taken by the Eagles’ Gustavo Gutierrez, whose initial shot was denied by Regis Jesuit junior keeper Trey Tomlin, who got a foot on the shot. As Tomlin regained his feet, Gutierrez trapped the rebound, eluded sliding senior defender Braden Murphy and slipped the ball into the net.
The score was a shock as Regis Jesuit’s pressure had created the feeling like something was coming — as it had when senior Casey McCloskey scored in the second half in a 1-0 win over Pine Creek in the semifinals — but 6-foot-6 Broomfield goalkeeper Jack Stoecker stood up to the challenge.
The Raiders’ best chance to tie came with just under 20 minutes left on a pretty give-and-go from junior forward Brendan O’Toole to senior midfielder Eli Hilt, who chipped his shot at a small portion of open net just to the left. Hilt fell to his knees, slammed the ground and pulled his jersey over his head in frustration as the prime chance slipped away.
Regis Jesuit had some other corner opportunities and free kick chances the rest of the way, but the Broomfield defense managed to just clear the ball out of danger and Stoecker had a clear line on every shot the Raiders took.
Regis Jesuit, the Continental League champion which suffered its only other loss to Rockhurst at the Jesuit Classic on Sept. 28, must go back to the drawing board when it comes to making a run at at the program’s fifth all-time state championship and what would be the first since 1996.
The Raiders graduate four of their top five scorers headed by McCloskey, who had 13 goals on the season — including the lone goal in their semifinal win over Pine Creek — plus significant players in the midfield and along the back line.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(9) BROOMFIELD 1, (6) REGIS JESUIT 0
Score by halves:
Broomfield 0 1 — 1
Regis Jesuit 0 0 — 0
Broomfield — Gustavo Gutierrez, 55th minute