Stan Jozwiak and Jim Davidson have crossed paths every so often in all their years between them coaching high school soccer, a mutual respect growing tenfold when their teams finally got the chance to match up against each other earlier this season.
Wednesday night at Legacy Stadium, the two will match wits once again, only this time with much more at stake. It’s the Class 5A semifinals, and either the Eagles or the Knights are going to move on and play for the state championship.
“(Fairview is) arguably one of the hottest teams in the state right now, and Stan’s got them organized and playing very well,” said Davidson, whose team has won each of their three playoff games by way of shutout. “They’re a dangerous team to be playing right now.”
“Broomfield has been a 5A-quality team playing in 4A for a long, long time,” added Jozwiak, whose Knights are on a nine-game win streak.
The story of this game begins with two of Colorado’s longtime great coaches, Davidson in his 18th season at BHS and Jozwiak in his 34th at FHS. Both teams made the semifinals in their respective classifications in 2012 and are coming off perhaps surprising playoff results from a year ago. In 2013, Fairview didn’t make it into the second round and the Eagles were dismantled in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
The bulk of the tale, however, is in how the teams are playing right now against the first time they met in the middle of September, a 1-0 win for Broomfield.
The Eagles have continued to play with a nearly impenetrable defense. Not only have the Eagles posted three straight shutouts, including a 4-0 throttling of Doherty in the quarterfinals, but they allowed only four goals in their final four regular season games, too. Davidson said his team’s improvements in the attacking third have really begun to reveal themselves.
“From a competitive standpoint, I think that’s what we’re doing well is we’re able to compete in every match,” Davidson said. “I like the way that we’re playing finally in attack. We’ve always been a good team going to goal, but we’re finally finishing chances and taking more chances.”
During Fairview’s win streak, the Knights have also played well against the opposition’s counter (eight goals allowed in nine games). Like Davidson, Jozwiak likes the amount of fluidity and awareness from his attack in recent weeks.
“There’s more chemistry and a better sense of where teammates are around you, and we’ve just become more successful attacking,” Jozwiak said. “I think both teams have grown since that meeting, and that’s evidenced in how far both of us have gone.”
Expect both teams to play true to form when they begin Wednesday’s game at 5 p.m. With Broomfield having the head-to-head win under their belt, Davidson will still very much rely on possession and defense to scratch out a low-scoring win.
For Fairview’s Andre Miller as well as Jozwiak, the hope is to get off to a better start than their last matchup in addition to honing in on a few details where BHS excels.
“We went down early against them, and they’re a very good defensive team,” said Miller. “They put a lot of guys behind the ball so it was hard to break them down. I’m hoping we can score early and build off of that rather than going down early.”
“We know we’ve got to be very good against their play on restarts,” Jozwiak said. “Direct kicks, corner kicks, the long throw-in they have. We’re going to have to stand up to that ongoing, across-the-match pressure.”
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