NIWOT — The current crop of Longmont senior soccer players have experienced some pretty big highs over the last few seasons.
They won a Northern League title in 2015 and advanced all the way to the state quarterfinals.
But with their backs against a proverbial wall on Tuesday against Niwot, the Trojans knew they needed a win to make the field of 32 and they got it.
Longmont (6-8-1, 3-4), which started the day No. 28 in the latest RPI ratings, beat the Cougars 3-1 and secured their spot.
"We needed it against Greeley Central on senior night (last Wednesday) and we played our heart out in that one," an elated Trojans coach Dave John said. "These have been the two most complete games we have put together all year and we were dominant today too."
Things looked bleak for Longmont after back-to-back losses to Northridge and Thompson Valley on Oct. 8 and 10, but John urged his team to come together and make a push and that is what they did.
It was Niwot, securely locked into a postseason berth — sitting at No. 10 in the RPI — that struck first on Tuesday afternoon.
Cougars senior forward Alex Arnold would win a one-on-one battle with Brendon Close in the midfield circle and then broke free for a chance at Trojans keeper Sam Merrill.
Longmont didn't blink and continued to force the issue. They were a awarded a direct free kick from 30 yards out and junior Orlando Alaniz made the most of it. He hooked a shot over the Niwot wall and just inside Mario Munoz's post.
"They played better than us today and they came out with a lot more fire," Niwot coach Stephen Dimit said. "After our first goal they didn't let down, so all credit to them."
The second half belonged to Longmont.
Just 15 seconds in, the Trojans' most dynamic goal-scorer over the last two seasons, Ruben Ordaz scored possibly his biggest goal of his prep career. He forced a turnover on the Cougars end and went in for the score.
Ten minutes later, Eben Vogel sprung Longmont's other super forward Brandon Staple and he one-touched a great ball to set Ordaz free and he bagged his second.
"It's not the same season that we had last year, but we refused to finish the season up on a losing note," Ordaz said. "We never gave up, and that win over Greeley Central got us closer to the playoffs and more hyped up for this one."
Niwot (9-6, 3-4) sent number forward but was never able to get anything else past Longmont keeper Sam Merrill, who finished with eight total saves — including two biggies in the final five minutes.
LONGMONT 3, NIWOT 1
At NiwotLongmont (6-8-1, 3-4) 1 2 — 3
Niwot (9-6, 3-4) 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Alex Arnold (unassisted), 15th minute; Longmont: Orlando Alaniz (unassisted), 25th; Ruben Ordaz (unassisted), 41st; Ordaz (Brandon Staple), 50th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Longmont: Sam Merrill (80-1-8); Niwot: Mario Munoz (80-3-8).