Boys soccer: Legacy’s late-season run halted in 5A quarterfinals

At All-City Stadium
Legacy (12-5-1) 0 0 – 0
Denver East (16-2) 0 1- 1
Goals (assists) – East: Jeremy Tabor (Elias Helbig), 64th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) – Legacy: Garrett Hernandez (80-1-3). East: Marques McDonald (80-0-3).
Yellow: Legacy, Nick Smith, 21st minute. Legacy, Joesph Goracke, 26th minute. East, Jermey Tabor, 68th minute. Legacy, Nathan Bradley, 50th mintue. East, Dakota Peterson, 52nd mintue.

DENVER – Legacy soccer has lived a dream season, but the upstart team receive a harsh wake up in Thursday’s Class 5A quarterfinals at All-City Stadium.

The 27th-seed Lightning’s program-best season was abruptly halted in a 1-0 loss to third-seed Denver East. The Angles scored on a miraculously constructed set piece that blindsided Legacy’s otherwise staunch defense.

But the fact that it took every ounce of East’s effort to stop the state tournament’s hottest dark horse, however, was little solace to Legacy.

“It was a tough way to lose,” Legacy coach Tony Romano said. “It was off an inadvertent handball, those calls had been going both ways all game. But kudos to them, they did a good job of finishing a set piece.”

East (16-2) extended its winning streak to 10 consecutive game by putting the Legacy (12-5) keeper in a nearly impossible situation.

The Angles crashed the backdoor of Legacy’s goal in the 64th minute, after East midfielder Elias Helbig fed the ball on direct kick from around 45-yards out. Garrett Hernandez attempted to split the difference between two Angle attackers. But the Lightning keeper could not lay his hands on Jeremy Tabor’s cross-goal header.

“It was a big momentum shifter,” said Hernandez, who had three saves on the evening. “But I wasn’t worried. We had been scored on by ranked teams and come back.”

Legacy fought hard in the final minutes to stay alive. The team mustered some strong charges on the Angles’ defense. But the closest the Lightning came to laying a shot on frame came on a high attempt by Shawn Rusk.

Legacy’s attack produced more fruitful attempts earlier in the game, with the team pulling the trigger on three solid looks. But Jacob Gonzales, Rusk and Nick Smith failed to find a crack in Marques McDonald.

The East keeper has been rock solid in the late season, giving up two goals in six outings and orchestrating five shutouts – three coming in the postseason.

“We broke their defense down repeatedly and he made a lot saves,” Romano said. “Our shots were not as on as they were (the last round).”

The loss stung Legacy, given the season the team pieced together. The Lightning won more games than any other Legacy soccer team this season and came up with some of this tournaments’s biggest upsets. The Lightning beat sixth-seed Arapahoe 1-0 Oct. 25 to start the tournament, then beat No. 11 Lincoln 4-1 Oct. 28, in the second round.

“I’m proud of everyone here at Legacy,” Hernandez said.