WESTMINSTER — Soccer teams practice set pieces over and over again to get the kind of goal the Legacy boys were able to connect on during Wednesday’s playoff opening round game against Aurora Central.
When a connecting pass off the foot is headed perfectly into the back of the goal amidst a scrum of players, it doesn’t get much prettier. And for the Lightning, Joey Joiner’s goal in the 52nd minute was the difference in a 1-0 win at North Stadium.
The No. 15 seeded Legacy advanced to play the No. 2 seed Far Northeast Warriors next Wednesday in the Class 5A state tournament.
“It wasn’t really intended for Joey, but I’m just super glad he got a head on it and was super excited for him,” said senior Dustin Rittenhouse, who was credited with the assist from the corner on the winner.
Truthfully, the Lightning (11-4-1) were putting some well-played crossing passes into the scoring area for most of the night and thus getting a lot of good opportunities against the No. 18 seeded Trojans (10-6).
The final 20 minutes of the first half really presented some good chances, giving Legacy a little bit of added warmth heading to the locker room despite the scoreless stalemate.
Within the first minute of the second half, Legacy earned a free kick just outside their 18-yard area and nearly got a Kyle Mikan deflection to go in, but the trend of Legacy having foot on ball continued for the next 12 minutes.
Joiner’s header was a bit of redemption after the sophomore — the team’s leading scorer this season — hit the crossbar on an open shot in the first half.
“Our coach has us practice those for this type of moment,” Joiner said of his 10th goal of the season. “We needed it to work and it did, and now we’re in the second round for it.”
“I felt when we played in the middle it did get congested but once we took things out wide things started working well for us,” Rittenhouse added. “We beat them off the dribble, got good passes off. We knew we needed to get off to a fast start second half and I think we did that pretty well.”
Legacy garnered six corner kicks overall to Aurora Central’s one and the Lightning defense really kept split-timed goalies Ivan Castillo and Brandon Hansen from having to do a lot of work by allowing just three shots on goal.
Legacy head coach Tony Romano made his way to North Stadium after having gone to see Far Northeast play part of their first-round contest at home. The Warriors were tied with Eaglecrest 1-1 at half before pulling away by a 3-1 score.
“It’s a strong team from what I saw, although it’s hard when you are playing in conditions like today,” Romano said. “Hopefully Wednesday will be much better weather, and I think it will change both teams (approach) a lot.”
Legacy 1, Aurora Central 0
At North Stadium
Aurora Central (10-6) 00—0
Goals (assists) —Legacy: Joey Joiner (Dustin Rittenhouse assist) 52nd minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Legacy: Ivan Castillo (40-0-0), Brandon Hansen (40-0-3).