WESTMINSTER — Tajon Buchanan at his best is hard to defend.
Some may argue that the Legacy senior striker even at 80 percent would be tough.
On Wednesday night in the first round of the Class 5A state soccer playoffs against Arvada West at North Stadium, Buchanan was simply magnificent in leading the 13-seeded Lightning to a 4-0 win over the Wildcats.
“In my opinion he the strongest player playing the game in the state of Colorado,” said Legacy coach Tony Romano of his Syracuse University bound striker. “He is a true difference maker no matter what his path is.”
The Lightning (11-4-1) advance to the second round against crosstown rival Broomfield on Wednesday. The two teams tied 1-1 in their regular season Front Range League match.
It didn’t take long for Legacy, which won just one of its final five games entering the playoffs, to establish the run of play against their Jefferson County league opposition.
After the initial playoff jitters wore off in the first ten minutes, the Lightning began to dominate possession. In the 15th minute, Fernando Yuste’s through ball split two defenders and sprung Buchanan for a breakaway against Wildcats keeper Brendan Bell.
Bell came out to try to beat Buchanan, but the speedy senior’s first touch was too good and he simply settled to his preferred foot and from an obscure angle was still able to finish into the empty goal.
“It was a great start, but we have a long journey and it is always nice to get the first one out of the way,” said Buchanan, whose currently leads Class 5A in goals with 21. “I was happy to score two goals and help the team get that win today.”
Yuste would make it 2-0 just seven minutes later. A cross across the top of the box was back-heel flicked by Dylan Nun to Yuste, who was able to finish with ease.
Dylan Kheng created the next goal for the Lightning, working himself free of a cluster of Wildcat defenders and sending the perfect pass to Buchanan, who registered No. 2.
He could have had No. 3 after he was taken down inside the box by Chris Geissler, but instead he gave the penalty kick opportunity to sophomore Noah Stover. He didn’t miss.
“He’s in a race for the state’s goal scoring title, he’s got two and draws a penalty for third and what does he do?,” Romano said. “That’s who that kid is. He is an amazing player, but he is also an amazing human being.”
Buchanan wasn’t about to give any sort of bulletin board material to Broomfield, but he was blunt.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a big test, but if you want to win state you have to take down the big dogs.”
LEGACY 4, ARVADA WEST 0
At North Stadium
Arvada West (11-5) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Legacy: Tajon Buchanan (Fernando Yuste) 15th minute; Yuste (Dylan Nun), 22nd; Buchanan (Dylan Kheng), 30th; Noah Stover (penalty kick), 39th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Arvada West: Brendan Bell (40-4-1), Brandon Sheldon (40-0-3); Legacy: Luca Falagrady (62-0-5), Ivan Castillo (15-0-1), Brandon Hanson (3-0-0).