DENVER | The Cherokee Trail boys soccer team left its first trip to the Class 5A state semifinals with a sick feeling.
The 14th-seeded Cougars certainly had their chances to extend the best season in the history of the program in a game that stretched into the late night at CIBER Field at the University of Denver, but watched it end in heartbreak as seventh-seeded Broomfield scored a golden goal in double overtime for a 2-1 victory.
While the Eagles moved on to the 6 p.m. 5A state championship game at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs against No. 4 Denver East — which dealt Aurora’s other semifinalist, No. 9 Regis Jesuit, its own heartbreaking loss (story) — coach Mark Hill’s Cherokee Trail finished the season 12-4-3.
The Cougars had trailed only one time during their three previous playoff contests — a 1-0 overtime win over No. 19 Valor Christian in the first round, a 2-1 overtime win over No. 3 Rampart in the second round and 2-0 victory over Legend in the quarterfinals — but found themselves down by a goal 10 minutes into the semifinal.
Broomfield — which defeated Cherokee Trail 4-1 in a regular season meeting — came out flying and got the scoreboard with Evan Rea scoring in the aftermath of a corner kick taken by Elijah Smith.
But the Cougars bounced right back just two minutes later when Ruiz — the hero of Cherokee Trail’s overtime win over Rampart — drove a free kick from just inside the midfield circle that short-hopped Eagles’ keeper Evan Kulstad and made it into the net.
It was Ruiz’s seventh goal of the season and it gave new life to the Cougars, who remained even with some impressive play in the net from senior keeper Blake Garrett.
The teams would then play more than 80 minutes without either team scoring — though both sides had several set pieces that weren’t finished — which sent the contest to a first and then second overtime.
Three minutes into the second extra 15-minute session, Broomfield finally got the golden goal when Smith struck a ball from outside the goal box that hung in the air for a rushing Adam Thresher, who snuck a header through a small window just past Garrett and into the net.
The sudden end sent Cherokee Trail players to their knees all over the field.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter/X: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A BOYS SOCCER STATE PLAYOFFS (SEMIFINALS)
Nov. 7 at CIBER Field, Univ. of Denver
(7) BROOMFIELD 2, (14) CHEROKEE TRAIL 1 (2OT)
Score by halves:
Cher. Trail 1 0 0 0 — 1
Broomfield 1 0 0 1 — 2
Broomfield — Evan Rea (Elijah Smith), 10th minute
Cherokee Trail — Marcelo Ruiz, 12th minute
Broomfield — Adam Thresher (Smith), 99th minute