staff photo/ David R. Jennings
Broomfield’s Hailey Mazzola moves the ball away from Niwot’s Lauren Tatusko during Thursday’s game at Niwot.

NIWOT — Typically the backfield is one of the most overlooked squads on the soccer pitch. But Thursday, Broomfield’s defense stole the spotlight.

Patricia Finnegan, Hailey Mazzola, and Stephanie Martella were the catalysts for one of the fifth-ranked Eagles’ most weighty wins this season in Northern League play. The defense stiffened at the right time, helping to overcome scrappy No. 10 Niwot for a 2-1 win.

Even with the backfield becoming a brick wall in the critical final 25 minutes, it was still a nervy finish for the players.

“There was a definite momentum switch after their goal and we were going under a bit,” said Finnegan, whose team has collected five shutouts this season. “I’m just happy we were able to hold our own.”

Emotions ran high for both Niwot (4-4-1, 2-2) and Broomfield (8-3, 4-0), after Lauren FitzGibbons put the Cougars on the board the 55th minute.

The Eagles’ juices got flowing with the goal being netted while goalie Bri Wilber was on the ground. The keeper was hurt thwarting the Cougars’ initial attack on goal. She was then replaced by Paige Lindbloom for the finale of the game.

Niwot, on the other hand, got fired up as all its hard work on the attack finally paid off. The team built a head of steam off the play, but never got another clear look at the frame.

“Broomfield is definitely organized, give them credit,” Niwot coach Jeremy Drake said. “We tried to make some changes out there and we had our chances, but they played strong.”

The loss was Niwot’s fourth straight, with the team facing a murderer’s row. And from Drake’s perspective, the team’s most recent falter was not due so much to how Broomfield finished, but how his team started.

“Our second halves are so much better than our firsts,” the coach said. “That’s what we need to remedy.”

The Eagles took control of the scoreboard almost immediately to remain undefeated in league play. Courtney Miknis struck the opening goal in the fourth minute, connecting on a feed from Chaya Ahrens across the net. But after the junior planted the high chip shot in back of the goal, Broomfield’s attack waned.

The team controlled much of the midfield play and Miknis got one more shot off on frame. But until the final 10 minutes the Eagles struggled to maintain a consistent attack.

For Jim Davidson, much of the troubles with sustaining offense were due to ball-control issues.

“We struggled with our first touch,” the Broomfield coach said. “Getting our first touch under control today was a big issue for us. We had trouble putting the ball on, as anyone would, after we didn’t get that first touch taken care of.”

Ellie Milner put what would be the deciding goal on frame in the 29th minute with some help from Miknis. The senior stuck the goal in from the wing, with Miknis circumventing heavy defensive traffic to record the assist.

“There was definitely a relief when Ellie’s goal went in,” Miknis said. “But a 2-0 lead is one of the most dangerous leads you can have in a soccer game.”

Broomfield 2, Niwot 1

At Niwot H.S.

Broomfield (8-3, 4-0) 2 0 — 2

Niwot (4-4-1, 2-2) 0 1 — 1

Goals (assists) — Broomfield: Courtney Miknis (Chaya Ahrens), 4th minute; Broomfield: Ellie Milner (Courtney Miknis), 29th minute; Niwot: Lauren FitzGibbons (unassisted), 55th minute

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Broomfield: Bri Wilber (55-1-1); Paige Lindbloom (25-0-1). Niwot: Kim Schoep (80-2-3).