COMMERCE CITY — Caylin Lyubenko just has that championship touch.
For the second year in a row, the Grandview standout came through for her team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Wolves junior scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner late in the first half, sending Grandview to a 2-1 victory over Arapahoe in the Class 5A state championship game Wednesday night.
Grandview (17-2-1) defended its 2018 title – a game in which Lyubenko scored the game-winner in overtime – and claimed its fourth 5A trophy in five years.
“This team has always been good. This program has always been good,” Lyubenko said. “It started five years ago – we had one season off, but we’re back again. We’re back-to-back.”
Holding the championship aloft was made all that much sweeter by defeating Centennial League rival Arapahoe, which played the Wolves to a 2-2 tie back in early April.
It also helped ease the sting of the 5A boys title game in the fall, where Arapahoe defeated Grandview on the same field.
“The rivalry between Arapahoe and Grandview is pretty big,” Lyubenko said. “Obviously our boys lost in the fall, and we wanted redemption.”
Lyubenko had the only goal of the 2018 contest against Broomfield, sending her team to the title as a sophomore. Wednesday night she didn’t wait quite so long, finding the back of the net twice in the first half.
The first goal came in the 25th minute of play. A deep throw-in from Kayleigh Jones was sent over to Lyubenko, who sent a high ball past Arapahoe goalkeeper Grace Cadorette.
The Warriors (15-4-1) tied it up a little more than a minute later. Audrey Weiss sprinted through the Wolves defense and sent the ball past Maddie Livingston to make it a 1-1 game.
Lyubenko capped the scoring in the closing minutes of the first half, sending a long liner that eluded Cadorette.
“She hasn’t scored like that all season,” Grandview coach Tari Wood said. “She gets special ones when we need them. Who would have said one last year, and two this year?”
Arapahoe put the pressure on the Wolves defense in the second half. The Warriors sent six shots on goal, but Livingston was able to turn them all away.
In the final 10 minutes, Summer Mock sent a cross to Elsa Edmonds, whose shot was denied by the Wolves keeper. In the 77th minute, Livingston stopped another ball from Weiss.
“I thought we played a little bit too much long ball, which is Arapahoe’s game more than us,” said Wood, who added that Livingston rose to the occasion in a big way. “But with the pressure they were putting on us, we knew the space was in the corners. We were trying to get it to the corners.
“We knew that they want to dribble at you. The way you defend dribbling at you is you just stay in front, and that’s what we kept doing.”
Arapahoe was making its second championship game appearance in three years, both times as the No. 12 seed.
Grandview will graduate a strong core of seniors who helped establish a dynasty within the program over the past five seasons.
“We’re going to miss this group of eight seniors,” Wood said. “A lot of times you don’t have a group of seniors where every single one of them starts and plays the whole entire time.”