COMMERCE CITY — Titus Grant has been waiting four years to hoist a soccer state trophy. And after a fourth-straight trip to the state title game, the team's leading scorer was able to accept the hardware for his team and thrust it towards the sky.
After TCA finished as a state runner-up five times out of the last six years and Grant had to sit out last year's final upon a yellow card penalty in the semifinal round, the senior forward led the Titans to the program's first-ever boys soccer state title.
"The evolution of Titus Grant over the last four years has been absolutely incredible," Titans head coach Blake Galvin said. "And to see him with the ability to literally lead this team into a state final like this and win a state championship is fantastic. He deserves it and he’s been a terrific leader for this team."
No. 3-seeded TCA took down No. 9-seeded Battled Mountain 7-1 in the Class 4A 2016 boys soccer state championship game on Saturday afternoon at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
"This is by far the biggest game I’ve ever played in my life, and to hold that trophy is a moment I've been waiting for," Grant said. "It means a lot to me, especially after not playing last year, and finishing freshman and sophomore year as the runner-up. It’s probably the best feeling in the world right now, being able to lift a trophy with my brothers who have played all these years with me — especially the 12 seniors we have on the team this year."
The Titans, 18-2, have advanced to the state title game five times in the last six years in two classifications: 2010, 2011 and 2013 in Class 3A and 2014 and 2015 in 4A; but the Titans have failed to produce a victory until the 2016 final, which was won behind an offensive effort of seven goals from six different scorers.
"For these boys to finally get over that hurdle - my group of seniors who have been to four straight - for them to get over that hurdle, it was big for them," Galvin said. "The reality is I think that experience really is what helped them get over that hurdle. The fact they’ve been here, they played composed, they played a great game and I’m just really, really proud of them."
The first goal of the game was an absolute heartbreaker for the Huskies. In the 13th minute off a shot from TCA junior midfielder Jonny Stephens, the ball hit the crossbar and as Battle Mountain junior goalkeeper Alan Villegas went up to get the ball, and it fell below him, past the goal line and into the goal for the first lead of the game.
Stephens was credited with the goal, but Villegas essentially scored on himself.
"It was unlucky for him and it kind of got him down a bit, which helped us, but Battle Mountain is a great team," Grant said.
After that, the Titans also had goals from Grant (his 30th), senior forward Jaden Borja, junior midfielder Jake Slater, junior forward Nathan Fronterhouse and senior midfielder Jeremy Baldes.
Battle Mountain, 17-3, was able to get on the board with 11 minutes remaining in regulation, but another Stephens goal in the last four minutes sealed the 7-1 victory for the Titans.
Battle Mountain, winner of the 2012 4A state title, played very fast, cheeky and physical. Senior Creek Kamby was very quick and sharp with ball movement and junior forward Juan Macias also proved to be an force for the Huskies. There were opportunities to score, but they didn't finish.
"It’s a team effort today," Grant said. "We’re brothers and we play together. Six goals scored? That’s pretty crazy to come into a final and win 7-1. That’s pretty big."
The seven goals put TCA at 121 total for the season - "Which is ridiculous," Galvin said. "That’s a huge number of goals. They are a prolific goal scoring machine."