COMMERCE CITY — Two teams with exceptional defenses — No. 3 seed Boulder Panthers and No. 12 seed Broomfield Eagles — squared off Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to decide the Class 5A boys state soccer championship.
The two teams' defenses were so strong, in fact, it took a penalty kick to finally put points on the scoreboard.
Broomfield junior midfielder Porter Milner’s penalty kick goal broke a 0-0 tie 15 minutes into the second half as the Broomfield Eagles defeated the Boulder Panthers 2-0 to win their the 5A championship in their first season at the level.
Milner’s deciding goal slithered just in the left side of the net.
“I’ve taken a lot of those this year,” said Milner. “I knew where I was going the whole time.”
The penalty kick was set up by sophomore forward Armando Ocampo’s deep run into the teeth of Boulder’s defense.
“Armando has had a fantastic season. Handling this as a sophomore is really incredible. I think he’s struggled a bit in front of goal early in the season, and he just stayed with it,” said Broomfield head coach James Davidson after the game. “For a sophomore to handle himself in that situation is pretty fantastic.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams at times dominating the ball — Boulder early in the half, Broomfield late. But while both teams threatened, neither could find the back of the net.
Boulder goalkeeper Leo Huettel was aggressive attacking the ball early in the night. Broomfield was able to set up a number of promising crosses, only for them to be punched out by Huettel or stifled by the Panthers defense.
The Panthers also had a number of opportunities late in the half. Junior midfielder Brian Castruita’s fancy footwork set up a golden opportunity for the Panthers, only for his shot, hampered as it was by Eagles defenders, to sail high.
Following Milner’s score, the Eagles would add another on an own-goal just a few minutes later to make it 2-0 in their favor. From there the game grew increasingly physical, as the Panthers threw everything they had at the Eagles. Through it all, the Eagles defense, and goalie Michael Genge, held strong.
“They were absolutely amazing,” said Genge of his defense in front of him. “All four of them. As a team, we just had such a defensive game again today.”
The Eagles finished the state tournament having allowed just one goal in five matches.
“They were stoic. They had to be great. It started with Michael (Genge). He had the game of his life in the state championship, not a bad thing to do,” said Davidson. “The back four were super organized. Our shape was great, and that’s not easy to do on a big field, especially with the way Boulder plays to it’s flanks. Our kids did a great job of tucking in and giving depth when we needed it, and obviously dealt with all the airplay really well.”
For Davidson, the win is his fifth championship in nine trips, but his first at the 5A level.
“I was worried about that, I wanted to be on the right side of .500,” joked Davidson. “I’m not sure it’s fair to the other teams to compare championships but this is without a doubt right up there. First year in 5A, we’re the little school, but apparently we’re the little school that could.”