BROOMFIELD — In a game where a total of eight goals were recorded, the most unlikely hero on the pitch would seem to be the goalkeeper. But when Tuesday night’s Class 4A girls state soccer quarterfinal match drew to a close that was exactly the player who second-seeded Broomfield dog-piled.
Paige Lindbloom more than earned the right to be at the bottom of the heap of her teammates. The junior’s inspired play down the stretch was the defining factor in the Eagles earning their first berth in the state semifinals since 2008. And she made her shootout stand to seal a 5-4 win over No. 7 Mullen appear easy.
Face four shots. Reject three. Walk out of Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium a winner.
“I’m proud of us tonight,” Lindbloom said. “We knew it was going to be fight. It always is with Mullen. But we made our stand.”
Broomfield (15-2-1) had an advantage after it and Mullen (10-4-3) remained knotted 4-4 after two overtimes. The shootout was the fourth of Lindbloom’s career and she had beaten the odds entering Tuesday night with a 2-1 record in the game deciders. And she knew she was well on way to her third shootout victory after denying the Mustangs’ Devon Case on the opening shot.
“That first save was the most important, it always is,” Lindbloom said. “When you have that right off, their confidence goes way down and mine shoots up and so does our entire team’s.”
Winning the shoot out 3-1 advances Broomfield to Saturday’s semifinals, where the Eagles face No. 3 Palmer Ridge (14-3-1) at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker. While it was touch and go at times in Tuesday’s back-and-fourth match, Broomfield coach Jim Davidson had full confidence in his keeper shepherding the Eagles to the win. And Davidson does not believe he has ever had a goalie make a stand as authoritative as Lindbloom’s.
“It was absolutely phenomenal,” said Davidson, whose last shootout with the girls program came in 2003. “We’ve been training penalty kicks knowing a game could be decided by it and Paige has been super dialed in. My keeper coach Carl Morreale deserves a ton of credit.”
The finish was right up to the coach’s expectations for a program aiming to make a championship run. But there were moments of the game that left the coach wanting. The Eagles did not win high marks from him with the way they started the game.
“We gave up two really bad goals in the first half,” he said. “When you give up a goal inside of a minute from the start of the game, you’ve lost concentration right from the get go.”
Broomfield shook off the early miscues to play solid soccer in the final 40 minutes, but so did the Mustangs.
Mullen’s leading scorer Sabrina Van Horn gave the Eagles the biggest headache to finish, striking home two goals. The senior’s first in the 47th minute erased Broomfield’s second lead of the game, 3 minutes after Michaela Stark put the Eagles up 3-2. Then Van Horn appeared to wrap up Mullen’s win in the 61st minute finishing a well-constructed attack.
It was only by Brittney Stark connecting on a low-percentage attempt from more than 20-yards out with a little more than 10-minutes left that the game was propelled into overtime.
“It was ridiculous tonight, I was scared out of my mind,” the University of Colorado recruit said. “With all the equalizers and secondary goals, it was very stressful.”
The game might have raised the Eagles players’ and fans’ heart rates, but it also built their confidence for what the future holds.
“It definitely adds energy,” Stark said. “Our seniors deserve this and our team deserves this.”
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Broomfield 5, Mullen 4
At Broomfield H.S.
Mullen (10-5-3) 2 2 0 0 0– 4
Broomfield (15-2-1) 2 2 0 0 1– 5
Broomfield wins shootout 3-1.
Goals (assists) — Mullen: Zoe Zinis (Sabrina Van Horn), 1st minute; Whitney Szeliga (unassisted), 39th minute; Sabrina Van Horn (unassisted), 37th minute; Sabrina Van Horn (Megan Delmonico), 61st minute. Broomfield: Courtney Miknis (unassisted), 25th minute; Kerri Marquardt (unassisted), 38th minute; Michaela Stark (unassisted), 44th minute; Brittney Stark (Kerri Marquardt), 69th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Mullen: Taylor Valde (110-4-5). Broomfield: Paige Lindboom (110-4-5).
Shootout — Mullen: Devon Case did not score; Whitney Szeliga scored; Devin Kelly did not score; Zoe Zinis did not score. Broomfield: Courtney Miknis scored; Kerri Marquardt scored; Brittney Stark did not score; Katie Forsee scored.