WESTMINSTER - Joey Joiner leaped in front of the Westminster net and headed a pass toward the far post. The Legacy junior hoped his shot was true, but the ball went wide and Joiner stood with his hands on his head in frustration.
Less than 10 minutes later, he was celebrating. By the end of the night the whole Lightning team was happy after disposing of Westminster, 1-0, in the first round of the Class 5A soccer playoffs on Wednesday night.
"It was a bit of redemption," Joiner said.
Now the No. 5 seed Legacy (12-3-1) advances to host the Far Northeast Warriors on Halloween.
They got there after dominating the Wolves but barely squeaking by. When it looked like the Lightning was heading to overtime it finally cashed in when Jordan Swinhart lofted a pass to Joiner, who headed it over goalkeeper Fernando Gomez Macias and in.
"Jordan played a ball off a free kick in and I flicked it on and it went over the keeper," Joiner said. "I didn't think he was expecting I would head it. I wasn't expecting I would head it, either."
The biggest surprise was Legacy didn't have more, especially after a peppering Macias with shots in the first half. Macias made eight saves (unofficially) in the first 40 minutes and was fortunate on a couple of other attempts.
Ryan Bennett had a golden opportunity when Macias dove to make a save and the ball came to Bennett, but his shot went over the top of the net in the 17th minute.
"Oh, man. It was bouncing and I thought I could bury top corner but I overhit it a little bit," Bennett said. "The chances we had at the beginning put ourselves in a good position. I had chances but I wasted it."
The Lightning was ready for a game like this after playing in the Front Range League, which produced three of the top five seeds in 5A. Legacy played league powers Boulder and Fairview tough, and beat crosstown rival Broomfield for the first time, and those battles prepared it for Wednesday.
"Playing through a league like that prepares you for a game like this," Lightning coach Tony Romano said. "We see that level of competition all season long. They see it in a surprise so it's harder for them to stay at that level."
The only negative in Wednesday's game was a red card drawn by Hunter Hance in the 76th minute. Hance got in a minor shoving match with a Westminster player after a hard tackle and the official gave both players a red card. Hance will serve a one-game suspension in the next round.
"You're in a playoff situation, a yellow card is sufficient - for both players," Romano said. "That was a difficult one that I don't agree with but it is what it is and we'll be playing without him next game."
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Legacy 1, Westminster 0
At North StadiumWestmisnter (11-5-0)00—0Legacy (12-3-1)01—1
Goals (assists) —Legacy: Joey Joiner (Jordan Swinhart), 63rd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Westmisnter: Fernando Gomez Macias (80-1-10); Legacy: Brandon Hansen (80-0-5).