COMMERCE CITY | Down at halftime for the first and only time all season — in the last game of the season — the Grandview girls soccer team decided to go out and have some fun in the second half of Wednesday night’s Class 5A state championship game.
The last 40 minutes of the game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park turned out to be the most fun the Wolves had all season in large part because of Naomi Clark, who stepped up in crunch time yet again.
The junior striker erased fourth-seeded Grandview’s one-goal deficit to No. 2 Broomfield with a goal less than five minutes into the second half, added another just over a minute later and a third in the closing minutes to seal a 3-1 victory that yielded the program’s first state championship since 2019 and sixth all-time.
“When you come back and win, especially, it’s a lot of fun,” said Brian Wood, who guided the team to a title in his first season taking over the program from his wife, Tari, who retired just prior to the end of the coronavirus pandemic-extended 2021 season.
“At halftime, one of our captains, Payton (Whitney) stood up and said ‘let’s just have fun,’ so that was the big thing,” he added. “I was actually pretty happy with how we played in the first half, we just needed to put some more balls on frame. We knew it would take at least two goals to win and they went out and got them.”
Clark’s heroic performance sent 11 seniors — including a few that were on the varsity back in 2019 — out with a state championship. The Wolves finished the season on a 15-0-1 streak dating back to its only loss, a 1-0 defeat to Valor Christian — a team it defeated in double overtime in the semifinals — on March 31.
That regular season game with Valor Christian was the first time Grandview (17-1-2) trailed at any point in a game, as it yielded a second half goal that ultimately spelled defeat, and it happened again in the opening half against the Eagles, the 2021 state champions.
Senior Maddie Brady got behind the Wolves defensive line and ran onto a ball that Grandview senior keeper Jordan Nytes came out to cut off. Brady touched the ball around Nytes and rolled it into the open net to give Broomfield the lead in a half in which it didn’t really challenge much offensively.
That lead would last into halftime, but not long into the second half.
The Wolves came out loose and energized and the equalizer would come quick.
Gonzalez — who picked up an assist on Clark’s game-winning double-overtime goal against Valor Christian in the semifinals (story, here) — struck a perfect diagonal ball from the left wing across the field to an onrushing Clark, who coolly redirected it past Broomfield keeper Dylan Drennan into the corner of the net.
Just over a minute later and with the doubt of the Eagles becoming palpable to her, Clark stole a ball and drilled a left-footed shot from just outside the goal box that rippled the net in the top corner to put the Wolves in front for the first time.
Nytes and Grandview’s veteran defense — which yielded just five goals all season and never more than one in a game — held Broomfield at bay the rest of the way, while Clark put any comeback thoughts to rest with under two minutes left when she beat an Eagles defender to a loose ball and poked a shot into the net.
Clark finished a next-level postseason in which she scored at least one goal in four of Grandview’s five playoff victories and tallied seven in those four games to push her season total to 20. A whopping eight of those goals served as game-winners, including three against Legacy in the quarterfinals (story, here), Valor Christian in the semifinals and Broomfield in the title game.
When it was over, the Wolves emptied their water bottles in celebration on Wood, who guided the Grandview boys team to the 5A state title in the fall and got another in the spring with a staff that included former Wolves star Nicole Lyubenko (who helped restore some old traditions like a pre-game meal at Jimmy John’s) along with Rachel Middleman.
This season’s title — which came on the heels of Grandview missing the 2021 playoffs because the coronavirus pandemic cut down size of the state tournament after the entire 2020 got wiped out — added to the ones won by the program in 2008, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Of the six crowns, three of them have come at the expense of the Eagles (2015, 2018 and 2022).
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected]lcolorado.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 CLASS 5A GIRLS SOCCER STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
(4) GRANDVIEW 3, (2) BROOMFIELD 1
Score by halves:
Grandview 0 3 — 3
Broomfield 1 0 — 1
Broomfield — Maddie Brady, 32nd minute
Grandview — Naomi Clark (Meg Gonzalez), 44th minute
Grandview — Clark, 45th minute
Grandview — Clark, 78th minute