Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Dawson School’s Liv Cramer, right, moves the ball past a Denver Christian defender on Tuesday during the Class 2A state championship at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.

COMMERCE CITY — Liv Cramer’s first love was soccer.

She grew up playing the game and when she got to Dawson School as freshman in 2014, she knew she was going to be a part of something special with the newly 2A Mustangs.

But the physical nature of the sport over the years took its toll, and one concussion after another were too much for her and her parents to continue.

“After my freshman year, I thought I would never play soccer again,” said Cramer, who was a part of the Mustangs team that lost 2-1 to Vail Mountain in the title game in the spring of 2015. “I was even told that I would never play again.”

It was a tough pill to swallow, but ever the competitor Cramer found different ways feed the competitive beast inside. She played tennis her sophomore season for Dawson and even qualified for the Class 4A state tournament.

Her adventure then took her to Maine and a semester at Maine Coast Semester School in Wiscasset, “to study environmental science and live in the woods, it was really cool,” she said.

And after two years away from the game, doctors finally cleared her for participation in a contact sport again. But Cramer wasn’t the first to find out and her mother Amy was a little reluctant to let her know of the doctor’s orders.

“I was literally begging her to play again,” she recalled, “And when she found out I was eligible, she hid it from me because she knew I would go crazy with the opportunity to play again.”

She seized the opportunity and ran with it, all the way to coach David Criswell’s office to let him know she was coming back for her senior season. And her mere presence on a team that was mostly freshmen and sophomores was a shot in the arm.

“You can see how composed she is and that was a driving force for our other players,” said Criswell, after his team captured their elusive Class 2A title on Tuesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 3-2 over Denver Christian. “Not only today, but everyday in practice, the tone that she set leading up to today provided the foundation that we can build upon.”

Cramer was not only the senior leader the Mustangs needed, but proved to be a capable goal scorer, finishing with 16 goals. Most of those came in the latter half of the season, when Criswell and Co. were dealing with the loss of leading scorer Degen Miller.

There was never any tentativeness in Cramer’s game and even after a hard shot in the opening game of the season against Stargate, she never played that way.

“Coming back into the season I was anxious that I might have forgotten everything, but it was like riding a bike,” said Cramer, who will likely have post season accolades heaped upon her. “Everything just came back when we started practice again.”

The smile on her face after the final whistle sounded and the realization that everything she had worked for in her comeback to hoist the championship trophy was all worth it.

“I’m tearing up saying this, but it is the best feeling in the world,” Cramer said.

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