It’s much easier to notice a quarterback in football than it is the general on the soccer pitch.
Those who watched Boulder play soccer at any point this year, though, knew immediately who was directing the Panthers in the heat of the action. It’s a role Quinn Liebmann played with dignity and attitude in 2014.
“There wasn’t a game we played this year where Quinn wasn’t arguably the most important player on the field for us,” said BHS coach Hardy Kalisher, whose team has made the Class 5A finals two of the past three seasons. “He was in that deep center-mid position, so he had that responsibility of being the last screen before our final five … and the supporting playmaker for our front five players in front of him.
“We talk all the time about good players making everybody around him better, and Quinn did that better than almost anyone I’ve ever coached game-to-game.”
Playing with the “It’s-on-me” mindset after being out of the limelight in 2013, Liebmann helped Boulder rebound from a sluggish start — slugglish by its standards, at least — and brought the Panthers all the way to the season’s final game.
For his overall end-to-end dominance, Liebmann has been named the 2014 BoCoPreps.com Player of the Year.
As the holding midfielder for the 15-2-3 Panthers, Liebmann’s role was not to roll up a lot of points on to his personal profile. Those numbers still came, though, as he finished with five goals and eight assists (18 points tied for team lead).
The way he affected the game surpassed printable numbers. He was as much a fifth defender on the BHS field than anything else, though making that crucial turn to get the Panthers back in their dangerous transition came with the territory.
Liebmann was always willing to be the coach on the field, and that was something he felt was necessary given the youth of the team in a lot of areas.
“I really felt like that was part of my role this year, because I didn’t have the older players ahead of me,” Liebmann said. “I was that older player. I was willing to push others, but others were also willing to push me. That’s what made our team so great.
“This year, I was ready to play more defensive soccer and make sure that other guys were getting good goals. I liked to be the one who was responsible for keeping the team calm and in control. We had people who could do amazing stuff with the ball, and I wanted them to get rewarded for that.”
For Kalisher, Liebmann was one of the best examples of a player completely buying into the idea of playing for the love and effort of teammates.
“I think the joy of the game for him came from playing with his friends,” Kalisher said. “He came back and played high school soccer (against finishing through with the Rapids Academy). I think he’s a role model of sorts for kids out there trying to decide that very thing.”
Liebmann did get chances to make an impact on the scoreboard, particularly in the playoffs. As Boulder trailed Adams City 1-0 in the first round of the postseason, Liebmann nailed a long free kick goal that tied the game. The Panthers moved on to play Chatfield, and he got BHS off to a good start with another 35-yard laser off the set ball.
As a senior, Liebmann wanted nothing more than to play as long as possible. His play helped the cause tremendously.
“This year was exceptional, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more than getting to play in the very, very last game,” Liebmann said. “That was the goal for me from the very beginning of the season.”
The accolades for Liebmann added up quickly after BHS’ 17-game streak without a loss, a stretch that ended with a 2-0 loss to Broomfield in the Class 5A championship game.
He was named Front Range League player of the year, Class 5A player of the year as voted by the Colorado High School Soccer Coaches Association, and was also voted as an All-American, of which only one player in Colorado is guaranteed.
The All-American honor is a first for Boulder, and that humbled an already humble-by-nature Liebmann, who is moving on to play college soccer at Old Dominion.
“I can’t take credit at all for how hard our team worked,” Liebmann said. “And there’s no way all those awards could come without my teammates. I am honored to be chosen, but I can’t thank my teammates enough for pushing me every day.”
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