COMMERCE CITY — Given her senior season ended before it truly began, it would have been easy for Hailey Mazzola to focus on anything but soccer during her final months of high school.
Abandoning her beloved Broomfield girls soccer team, however, was never an option.
While head coach Jim Davidson readily admitted his club sorely needed the talents of the Arizona-bound Mazzola during a 2-0 loss against Grandview in the Class 5A state championship game Wednesday night, the veteran Broomfield leader also had nothing but gushing praise for the role Mazzola played on an otherwise youthful Eagles team that reached the championship game for the third consecutive season.
“She played that captain-assistant coach role, and she did it beautifully,” Davidson said. “How difficult must it have been for her to stand on the touch line and watch these games? But her emotional and spiritual presence helped win the day throughout the playoffs.”
Having played a mixed defensive and midfield role for Broomfield during her first three seasons, Mazzola’s senior year was waylaid by a torn ACL suffered against Niwot in the third game of the season on March 12.
Instead of sulking, Davidson made sure to sit down with his star shortly after the injury to remind Mazzola her presence, even on the sideline, could still be a huge influence for the Eagles.
“Soccer is my life and my world revolves around it,” Mazzola said. “I couldn’t really let that out of my routine. Plus, I had a team behind me that could support me through my injury. So I felt like I might as well lift them up and help them however I could to win a state championship.”
Mazzola was a key figure on each of the previous two Broomfield state runner-up squads, posting four goals and four assists last year as a junior and finishing her injury-shortened career with a total of seven goals and eight assists. Getting sent to the sideline, while obviously discouraging, allowed Mazzola to soak in other aspects of the game.
It is knowledge she will continue to absorb when the sits through a redshirt season with Arizona this fall.
“I just wanted to take a leadership role off the field and see the different atmosphere when you’re sitting on the sidelines,” Mazzola said. “It’s totally different than being on the field. It really taught me to be humble and appreciate the game way more than I really did. Being out there practicing every day was something I really missed, and I think I took that for granted.”
Broomfield reached the title game in its first season at the 5A level despite having only one other senior, starting outside defender Brooke Quinn, on the roster. Although their best player spent the bulk of the season in street clothes instead of cleats, Mazzola’s presence provided a more peer-like sounding board for standout youngsters such as freshmen Gia Lemley and Hailey Stodden.
“Without a doubt, at training, at team dinners, and during matches … when those players come off, we can talk to them as coaches, but Hailey could put an arm around them like a big sister or a friend and really calm them and coach them up,” Davidson said. “You can tell all the girls look up to her. She’s an amazing presence and she leaves a fantastic legacy.
“I just wish we could have had her in this match.”
Follow Pat on Twitter: twitter.com/prooney07
Grandview 1, Broomfield 0
At Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Broomfield (17-2-1) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Grandview: Jessica Hixson (Nicole Lyubenko), 27th minute; Grandview: Mandi Duggan (unassisted).
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Broomfield: Shannon Mooney (80-2-8); Grandview: Maddie Lesjak (79-0-6), Cristina Salazar (1-0-0).