LONGMONT — Cold and soaking wet, Niwot senior Tommy Hoffman still found a way to smile.
It wasn’t too hard to do after the Cougars shut out Longmont 2-0 during a matchup between city rivals and Class 4A Northern League foes under a constant rain Wednesday night at Everly-Montgomery Field.
It helped that Hoffman scored the opening goal, but beating the cross-town Trojans made it that much better.
“They were ‘city champs’ last year, so we had a little bit of a grudge going into this one,” Hoffman said, using air quotes around city champs.
The Cougars actually won the game between the two teams last year but later had to forfeit that and several other victories after using an ineligible player. Things came full circle as that player, Josh Watt, returned to goal for Niwot and made a number of impressive saves.
“He’s so solid back there,” Cougars coach Rob Johnson said of Watt. “If he keeps going like that he’ll be my No. 1 player.”
Niwot (4-0-1) remained unbeaten and picked up its first league win a third of the way through the season. Longmont dropped to 1-4 overall after playing two games within 24 hours.
Under an incessant rain that made it feel more like late fall rather than the end of summer, the Cougars starting the scoring with a beautiful cross from Isaac Nelson to Hoffman.
Running along the right side, Nelson pushed full speed toward the corner with a defender on and waited until he was out of room before sending the ball across. It floated no higher than the crossbar before dropping down in front of the far post, where Hoffman moved in for the finish.
“Tommy is always there, so I just put it in and knew that he would get to it,” Nelson said.
Niwot added another goal late in the first half after capitalizing on a defensive lapse by the Trojans.
The Cougars lined up for a corner kick and the ball dropped right between Niwot’s Luis Montealegre and Longmont keeper Yovanni Hernandez, who made an initial save from close range. But Montealegre controlled the rebound and sent it in to give his team a decisive two-goal advantage.
“That second goal, our defense was asleep,” Longmont coach Pat Laughlin said. “That’s something that can be prevented if they are simply paying attention.
“Niwot is a very good team and I was happy to see that played with them.”
Even with the cushion on the scoreboard, the Cougars did not want to settle back in a defensive posture. Instead, they kept the pressure on.
“One goal and they are right back on you. You have to keep at it and make sure there is no hope for a comeback,” Hoffman said.
Brady Delander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIWOT 2, LONGMONT 0
At Everly-Montgomery Field
Niwot (4-0-1, 1-0) 2 0 — 2
Longmont (1-4, 0-3) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Tommy Hoffman (Isaac Nelson), 11th minute; Niwot: Luis Montealegre (unassisted), 37th.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Josh Watt 80-0-4; Longmont: Yovanni Hernandez (80-2-5).
Corner kicks — Niwot: 3-1 — 4; Longmont: 2-2 — 4.
Offsides — Niwot: 3-1 — 4; Longmont: 0-0 — 0.
Yellow cards — Niwot: Robert Charles, 73rd; Longmont: Daniel Medina, 27th.
Red card — Longmont: Medina, 66th.