BROOMFIELD — From the stands, Matt Kaslon’s play appeared urgent and timely. From the senior’s perspective, it was far from that dramatic.
Kaslon netted second-seeded Broomfield’s game-winning goal in the dwindling moments off Thursday night’s 4A state soccer quarterfinals in impressive fashion. He lifted the Eagles to a 3-2 win over Northern League rival and No. 7 Niwot, cleaning up the second of two saved shots.
And while the action was fast, furious and just inches from the goal line, the senior was supremely confident at that point that the Eagles had the win in the bag.
“I think if we wouldn’t have gotten it there, it was coming for us,” said Kaslon, who netted the game-winner in the 73rd minute. “We were on their half the entire second half. I think we would have had it regardless if we scored there.”
The win puts Broomfield (14-1-3) into Wednesday’s semifinals at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker where the team will face sixth-seeded and undefeated Battle Mountain (18-0). After a rocky spell not too long ago, the point is one that might have seemed unreachable to the Eagles. But, to Kaslon, beating Niwot (14-4) to make the semifinals just proves how far his team has come in a short time.
“We’re a completely different team than we were when we started the postseason,” he said. “Everybody knows what we have to do and we all have our roles on the team.”
Even with cool nerves leading to the Eagles’ big win, the team still dealt with its tense moments in the match. The game was a back-and-forth affair, with one team getting the advantage, then the other equalizing the score.
It was much different than the last time the teams met, when Broomfield took the regular-season match 4-0. But facing a resurgent Cougars squad surprised few Broomfield players.
“We were expecting them to come out hard and they did exactly that,” said Jacob Bellendir, who struck Broomfield’s opening goal in the 22nd minute. “But we just battled back.”
The tensest moments for Broomfield came when Niwot’s Carlos Dominguez struck the opening goal in the 19th minute, and then when Aldair Cintora netted the equalizer in the 64th minute. The latter came 2 minutes after Clay Fiscus gave the Eagles a 2-1 advantage. But the Niwot defenseman had no illusions about what his goal meant at that point against the surging Eagles.
“We kept our heads up and fought back, but it was getting tough at the end,” Cintora said.
Niwot coach Rob Johnson made few tactical tweaks to get the Cougars competitive with Broomfield. It was more mental toughness than any other factor, Johnson said.
“We changed our attitudes,” Johnson said. “We knew we could battle with them, we could give them trouble.”
While buoyed by his team’s effort, Johnson was not pleased with his team’s seed given that the top two teams from the Northern League were forced to meet so early in the bracket.
“I think CHSAA could do a better job,” he said. “I would have rather been an eighth seed (than seventh) and seen them later.”
The game played out exactly the way Jim Davidson expected, with the Broomfield coach saying he had a premonition the score was going to be 3-2. And he believes the win further proved his young team is moving in the right direction when it matters most.
“From a psychological level, our mentality has been absolutely terrific,” he said. “The fact the boys have handled themselves well under pressure, through the schedule they’ve played, they’ve handled themselves extremely well.”
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Broomfield 3, Niwot 2
At Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium
Niwot (14-4) 1 1 — 2
Broomfield (14-1-3) 1 2 — 3
Goals (assists) — Niwot: Carlos Dominguez, (Grant Webster), 19th; Broomfield: Jacob Bellendir, (Noah Chapleski), 22nd minute; Broomfield: Clay Fiscus, (Connor Metzger), 62nd minute; Niwot: Aldair Cintora (Grant Webster), 64th mintue; Matt Kaslon (unassited), 73rd mintue.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Niwot: Jack Fitzgerald (80-3-10). Broomfield: Muir (80-2-4).