3A boys soccer state championship: Liberty Common beats Colorado Academy for first title

Liberty Common boys soccer champions

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

COMMERCE CITY — One goal will turn out to have such a significant impact for Liberty Common.

Colorado Academy allowed a grand total of zero goals in the Class 3A state tournament. But the Mustangs allowed one just over six minutes into the game.

The Eagles won 1-0 and as a result, claimed the first team state championship in school history.

"These are those days when you don't put things in perspective until the next day when you wake up and think 'did we just beat Colorado Academy to win a state championship,'" coach Cyrus Salehi said. "That Metro League has had five in a row and we broke that record today. It feels good."

In the seventh minute, Ryan Zonnefeld found open space on the left side of the box and fired a shot right by Mustang keep Max Jack.

For the first time all tournament, a team had a lead over Colorado Academy.

"It was crazy," Zonnefeld said. "When that went it, it was just a burst of adrenaline. I was so happy, you have no idea."

But there was still more than 73 minutes left in regulation. That's plenty of time for Colorado Academy to get someone like Larson Baker, who led the team with 18 goals, a chance to get the equalizer.

liberty common colorado academy soccer

(Cannon Casey/CHSAANow.com)

But the Eagles defense was more than up to the task. Every time Colorado Academy looked like they had a chance to create a shot, Najy Faour or someone else would come in and break it up.

And on the rare chance that the Mustangs got a shot off, Michael Bradley stood strong in goal and turned everything away.

"(The defense) has been incredible all year," Bradley said. "They've had my back, I've had theirs. They make it easy on easy."

But he still has to do the dirty work every now and then. With 22:20 remaining in the game, a laser shot was heading to the top-right corner of the Liberty Common net.

Bradley timed things just right and swatted the ball away, helping his team hang on to the lead.

"Holy cow," Salehi said. "He hasn't been tested a lot. Jefferson Academy tested us and he's been tested a lot in these last three games. We converted him into a goal keeper a few years ago and he looks like he was born there."

The Mustangs had their chances to tie things in the end, but the defense wasn't having any part of it after taking the lead.

A one-goal lead in the state title game against a team that has not given up a single goal in the postseason gave that team all the motivation it needed to battle and make history for its school.

"It happened in the last game too," Zonnefeld said. "When we got up by one, we locked in. As soon as we got that goal, I knew it was game."

He wasn't the only one. With his teammates standing nearby snapping photos of Liberty Common's now only state title trophy, Bradley express the same thought.

If he had been told before the game that they would score one goal, did Bradley think that the Eagles would claim the championship?

"Yes," he said. "Absolutely. 100 percent."