COMMERCE CITY — Faced with one of the most pressure-packed situations on the game’s biggest stage, Djibril Doumbia never let the nerves overwhelm him.
The Boulder sophomore goalkeeper found himself locked in with Broomfield counterpart Jose Ogaz in penalty kicks to decide the Class 5A state boys soccer championship Saturday night. After playing to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtimes, and with the PKs having reached the 14th round, Doumbia kept the faith that one chance was all he really needed.
That opportunity presented itself when he denied Broomfield’s 14th attempt. Panthers senior Mitchell Graesser then came through with the deciding score, giving Boulder the 13-12 advantage at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to secure its first state title since 2012.
The Panthers finished the year a perfect 20-0.
“I’ve just been trained over the years to forget that last shot,” Doumbia said. “You really get taught that thinking about that last shot, that’s when mistakes happen.”
It was only fitting that the final boys soccer game of the season came down to the last possible outcome between two league rivals who had played for the championship just two years ago.
“It was an incredible match and it was worthy of the state championship game,” Eagles coach Jim Davidson said. “It was two heavyweights slugging it out.”
Davidson and his players were left feeling especially disappointed though after Broomfield thought it had won just three rounds earlier. Ogaz had taken his turn and scored on Doumbia in the 11th round, then made what should have been the deciding save.
But as Broomfield (16-3-1) celebrated, a referee ruled that Ogaz had left the line too soon and Boulder was allowed to kick again.
“That was something else. I don’t know where that came from,” Doumbia said. “I don’t even have words to describe how lucky that is.
“I think Jose had a great game. I don’t even think he deserved that. I thought he was on the line, and I just think we got lucky with that one.”
It looked as though it would be Boulder’s night after senior Simon Julien scored in the 10th minute of the first half to put the Panthers on top. Julien took a pass on the left side and took his time setting his shot up before curling a ball from outside the box and sending it into the upper right corner past a diving Ogaz.
Broomfield tied it up in the 43rd minute though, with Armando Ocampo beating Doumbia on a short attempt inside the box.
Both defenses took over from there, denying chance after chance. Ogaz stopped a pair of quality shots in the final 10 minutes of play after defenders had slipped, and Doumbia recorded five saves in the second half.
That held up through both 15-minute overtime periods as well.
“Both teams tried to execute,” Davidson said. “It was just a stalemate, and then there were chances; and it was a stalemate again, and then there were some chances.”
Once the game shifted to penalty kicks, the goals began to pour into the net. Each team made its first three attempts before Broomfield missed high and Ogaz made a great diving stop.
“There’s just so much pressure to deal with,” Davidson said. “Jose was fantastic and he had an incredible match. He’s part of the reason why we’re here. He got us here, and it’s just a shame to see it end like that.”
After Doumbia knocked away the 14th attempt, Graesser came through for the second time.
“True belief. Not hope – true belief in what we’ve been working on together,” Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher said. “Penalty kicks take big players in big moments, and Djibril made the save. Mitchell actually looked at me and said ‘Coach, I’m taking it.’ I said ‘Okay, if you’re going to take it, take it.’”
The Front Range League rivals had met in the regular-season finale, with Boulder taking a 2-1 victory Oct. 20.
Kalisher said the day was perfect before the game even started because his players believed in each other and were playing for all the right reasons.
“They truly wanted to represent Boulder and the community,” Kalisher said. “They put together a perfect season. I told them today ‘one more opportunity to see beautiful futbol with these guys, so I’m a proud coach.”