BROOMFIELD — Tony Romano’s Legacy boys soccer team returned 10 of 11 starters from last year’s team.
A good thing, right?
Considering the Lightning won just three matches last season with the same core of players, Romano knew something had to change.
So he employed a new concept (his pillars of success) that centered around positivity, working hard each day and a strong team concept instead of just the basic fundamentals of the game approach.
The result? In just seven matches, Legacy had already doubled its win total from the previous season and despite a four-game winless streak, the Lightning has visions of a making a postseason run.
“I think those are critical pieces of our game. When I look at our weaker performances, the primary reason is a breakdown of those pillars rather than a tactical or technical breakdown,” Romano said. “So overall, I think our successes and our failures are a function of our ability to execute those three pillars.”
But it doesn’t hurt to combine the mental aspect with the physical and the Lightning has upped its game in that regard as well.
They found that out from Game 1 against Overland. A game that might have escaped their grasp over the last few years, saw the Lightning — behind a penalty-kick save from junior goalie Tate Collison — post a 3-2 overtime victory that set the tone for the season.
“Last year, we had a bunch of first-year starters and it was quite the awakening to come out and play with the big boys,” junior central defender Riley Johnson said. “This year we have that experience and we knew what it was going to take to win games.”
In addition to the Overland win, the Lightning scored an impressive 3-1 win at Abraham Lincoln, a team known for their speed and outstanding technical skill, in non-league play and have beat traditional powers like Fort Collins and Poudre in Front Range League play.
But in reality, the best game the Lightning have played all season came at the beginning of their four-game winless streak at Broomfield.
An encouraging performance both mentally and physically proved to Romano that the pillars were actually working.
Where last year’s team might have buckled under the pressure of being down 1-0 to a quality side like the Eagles, this Lightning team fought back and not only nabbed an equalizer, but some may argue had the run of play as the game wore on. And where last year’s team might have let the physical nature of the game bring them to a boiling point, this group maintained their composure and didn’t draw the ire of the officials.
“I feel like the attitude going into the season was the same, but now that we’ve played 10 games, we are much more confident than we were last year,” senior Brandon Headrick said. “I’ve never felt like talent was even much of an issue and that we can hang with the best teams in the state, but the work ethic and intensity has to be there.”
So what would a successful season look like for the Lightning? Short of a state championship of course, just making the playoffs and having a chance to be in the conversation would be a start.
But perhaps Collison sums it up best and puts the season as a whole in focus.
“I think that we’ve already had success, especially coming off of four and three-win seasons the past few seasons. Six wins is coming a long way,” he said. “Even being considered as a contender for state, that is basically success to me. Yeah, a championship would be great, but we have already come a long way and I consider that success.”
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