DENVER | Insane Becomes Expected — or IBE — is the mantra the Grandview girls soccer team chose for the 2018 season, revealed before Wednesday night’s Class 5A state championship game.
For coach Tari Wood’s Wolves to be holding the Class 5A state championship trophy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — much less the way they won it — is the definition of insanity.
Sophomore Caylin Lyubenko extended her right leg and took a shot with her back to the Broomfield goal that somehow pinballed its way across the goal line to give the top-seeded Wolves a 1-0 victory and their third state championship in the past four seasons.
“This one was Insane Becomes Expected and that’s kind of what this is,” Wood said. “It’s insane for us to be standing here. It’s surreal.”
Grandview’s handful of seniors put everything they had on the field to get the Wolves (17-0-3) past a physical, determined Broomfield (18-1-1) team that had won its previous two playoff games in overtime.
It was a wild shot by a sophomore that came in the aftermath of a long throw in by junior Shalom Prince and a light grazing by senior Morgan Szarka’s head, however, that ended it.
“I didn’t really see anything, I wasn’t even facing the goal, but I was like ‘I’m just going to go for it’ and it worked out,” Lyubenko said. “I love my seniors, I love my team and I was so glad I was able to finish it and get another state championship for them and get one for players like me who didn’t have one.”
Lyubenko’s winning goal delivered a third state championship for senior Natalie Beckman, who had a bird’s eye view of the final shot.
“We knew something was going to come, we had so many opportunities and we’d been so close; I’m just so glad we were finally able to put one in,” Beckman said.
“I had a pretty good angle and I was just watching the shot. Caylin had a good inside the foot volley and it hit the post and went it. It went over the line, but didn’t hit the net, so we were waiting to see what happened and then the ref blew his whistle and the game was over.”
Before that, Grandview had plenty of offensive opportunities, especially in a first half in which possession tilted in its favor.
Lyubenko had two chances to score in the opening half from point blank range, but both times Broomfield goalkeeper Grace Fuller blocked her shot with slide tackles.
Prince struck a few open shots high in the opening half and the teams went into the lockerroom scoreless after Grandview senior goalkeeper Reagan McCombs made her second huge save of the half by punching Mallory Mooney’s drive over the crossbar. She saved Jessica Mooney’s free kick in a similar fashion earlier in the half.
Senior Lauren Juul had her opportunity when she got some separation on a free run early in the second half, but again Fuller came off her line and poked the ball away with her legs.
The dimensions of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park field drained the batteries of players on both sides who had to do a lot of work to get free, but the Wolves kept coming.
The defense — with McCombs in the net in the opening half and junior Madi Livingston taking over in the second half — kept Eagles’ star striker Hailey Stodden (who came into the game with 30 goals) mostly at bay and weathered the pressure of seven Broomfield corner kicks and an array of free kick chances.
As the game went on, Prince’s long, twisting throw ins began to get more and more dangerous as they bounced in the Eagles’ goal box and one of them eventually led to Lyubenko’s winning goal.
With older sister Nicole — a former Grandview star now at the University of Alabama — in the stands, Lyubenko relished her chance to have the feeling of being a state champion.
“Watching my sister for two years here, I’ve always wanted to be in this position,” she said.
“I got my chance tonight, we got the job done and I get my ring!”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports
(1) GRANDVIEW 1, (2) BROOMFIELD 0 (OT)
Score by halves:
Broomfield 0 0 0 — 0
Grandview 0 0 1 — 1
Overtime — Grandview: Caylin Lyubenko, 84th minute