BOULDER — Boulder junior Mitchell Graesser went from potentially landing in Hardy Kalisher's dog house to being on top of the world in a span of 15 minutes on Wednesday night.
After "getting a little too physical" according to Kalisher inside his own 18 and allowing Legacy to tie the game 2-2, Graesser bagged the game-winning goal in the 79th minute to propel Boulder past the upstart Lightning 3-2 at Recht Field and set up a cross-town quarterfinal rematch against top-seeded Fairview.
"That is a testament to his character," said Kalisher of Graesser. "He recognized that he needed to step in that big minute and get that header on frame.
"We have a team with a lot of character and class and give Legacy credit, they were so prepared."
The Lightning, seeded No. 25 in the 32 team field, advance to the second round with a huge 5-1 win over ThunderRidge in the first round. Coach Tony Romano's team, which seemed to be getting hot at the right time, wraps up the season 9-8.
"Big picture and whole season, even tonight, when you are down to Boulder twice and you are able to come back, that is no small accomplishment," said Romano, whose team lost to Boulder 3-1 in mid-October. "I'm proud of them. They showed a lot of heart tonight."
Boulder went up 2-1 midway through the second half. Legacy's sophomore back-up goalie Luca Falagrady — who was fantastic in his two playoff performances — made the initial save on Eric Ramirez's rocket to his near post but couldn't hang on an Sam Kirk pounced on the rebound to finish.
Game, set match?
Legacy pushed a man up and had the Panthers on their heels in the hunt for the tying goal. It came in the 65th minute and Trent Headrick, who missed the first match between the two teams, finished a rebound off the line by Boulder's Leroy Alphonse to even the match.
"This team is a real good team and I wish I had another chance with them," said Romano, who made the necessary adjustments from their first meeting with the Panthers. "Some of it was just being aware of their strengths and getting the guys fired up and they were ready to roll tonight."
The Lightning nearly took the lead with 10 minute to play when Riley Johnson, who also missed the first match and scored Legacy's first half goal, slid a shot just wide of Miguel Alaniz's goal.
With under two minutes to play, Boulder lined up for a corner and Brian Castruita, whose little brother Omar opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, floated a perfect ball to the far post that allowed Graesser to go up and get it.
"As soon as they scored it was just a fight to get back in it and it's a team goal," Graesser said. "Hardy is always yelling at me at practice to hit it back on frame and don't try to flick it, so when it came up I just jumped my highest and tried to get it on goal."
Boulder 3, Legacy 2
At Recht FieldLegacy (9-8) 1 1 — 2
Boulder (13-4) 1 2 — 3
Goals (assists) — Boulder: Omar Castruita (unassisted), 23rd; Legacy: Riley Johnson (unassisted), 33rd; Boulder: Sam Kirk (unassisted), 55th; Legacy: Trent Headrick (unassisted), 65th; Boulder: Mitchell Graesser (Brian Castruita), 79th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Legacy: Luca Falagrady (80-3-2); Boulder: Miguel Alaniz (80-2-3).