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Boys soccer: Boulder makes statement in road win at Broomfield

Neither Panthers nor Eagles guaranteed Class 5A postseason spot

  • Russell Tuccio, left, of Broomfield, Micah Garry, Oliver English, and Sam McDiarmid-Sterling, fight for the ball during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Micah Garry, left, of Boulder, collides with Reyn Tillman, of Broomfield, in front of Evan Sims, Boulder goalkeeper, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Micah Garry, left, and Reyn Tillman, of Broomfield, battle on the header during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Russell Tuccio, left, of Broomfield, Micah Garry, Oliver English, and Sam McDiarmid-Sterling, position themselves during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Russell Tuccio, left, of Broomfield, and Sam McDiarmid-Sterling, fight for possesion during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Oliver English, left, of Boulder battles with Reyn Tillman, left, and Elijah Smith, of Broomfield during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Kreitler Payes (14) of Boulder, tries to get around John-Luc Harbour, of Broomfield, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Luis Meza, right, of Broomfield had a chance for a score on Ben Ray and Evan Sims, of Boulder, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Sam McDiarmid-Sterling, left, of Boulder, and Reyn Tillman, of Broomfield, on the header during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Kreitler Payes (14) of Boulder, tries to get around John-Luc Harbour, of Broomfield, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Luke Kreidl, of Boulder, gets around Broomfield goalkeeper, Connor Nolan, but doesn't score during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Cesar Gaytan, of Broomfield, gets in front of Kreitler Payes, of Boulder, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

  • Cesar Gaytan, of Broomfield, gets in front of Kreitler Payes, of Boulder, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Jake Dunn, of Broomfield, plays defense on Luke Kreidl, of Boulder, during the Boulder at Broomfield game on April 17, 2021.

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BROOMFIELD — In any normal year, Broomfield and Boulder boys soccer wouldn’t have to worry about making the Class 5A state playoffs.

Both have been powerhouses over the past couple of decades, and both struck fear in the hearts of their opponents.

But this is no normal year.

On Saturday at Elizabeth Kennedy Stadium at Broomfield High School, the eighth-ranked Panthers and unranked Eagles battled for a chance at glory. Boulder emerged victorious in epic fashion as junior forward Calvin Pielke played the hero with the golden goal in the first overtime, 1-0.

“Through the whole game, we’d just been playing long balls,” he said. “But I was open, I asked for it, worked my way up the field and we were lucky enough to get a goal.”

The Panthers (7-2-1) secured a tie for second place in the Front Range League with Fossil Ridge.

Due to the pandemic, CHSAA mandated that just 16 teams will be selected for the postseason this year, instead of the usual 32. That means some of the state’s soccer royalty will be left out, as each of the seven league winners automatically gets seven of the 12 automatic bids. Four more will lie in the hands of the selection committee.

That can be tough to chew on for the ultra-talented Front Range League, which is only guaranteed two bids this season.

“The Front Range League deserves at least three or four playoff teams,” Boulder head coach Hardy Kalisher said. “On a given year, we have seven to nine teams going to playoffs. On most years, two to even four of the semifinalists are from the Front Range League.”

If either team is excluded from this year’s playoffs, it would be truly historic.

Broomfield has danced in the playoffs every year since head coach Jim Davidson took the reins of the program in 1997 and has taken home a state-most eight crowns since then.

He believes his Eagles will be on the outside looking in when brackets are released on Tuesday.

“It just shows you the margin of error is so small,” Davidson said. “We kept our concentration all game until that final moment. We just switched off and Boulder played a clever little ball up the sideline there. We just made a bit of a mess of it. … That’s where soccer can be cruel sometimes.”

Boulder has competed on Colorado’s biggest stage each season since 2005, winning the whole thing twice.

Throughout the first 20 minutes, the Panthers controlled much of the pace of play, constantly keeping the Eagles on their toes. After the midway point, however, that momentum shifted in Broomfield’s favor.

The Eagles started to pressure Boulder keeper Evan Sims more and more, but couldn’t quite break through the goal box.

Broomfield’s momentum carried into the opening minutes of the second half when corner kick after corner kick repeatedly tested Sims’ resolve. He remained unblemished as the Panthers found a way to regain possession and send the ball downfield.

The next 37 minutes, however, saw Broomfield taking charge as Boulder slipped through the Eagles’ defenses every once in a while. Neither effort was sufficient enough to end the game in regulation as the 80th minute expired at 0-0.

Despite dominating much of possession, Broomfield couldn’t get past Boulder’s defenses. That’s when, seven minutes into the extra period, Pielke snuck the ball past Broomfield keeper Connor Nolan and into the back right corner of the net.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Broomfield senior center midfielder Zane Jacobson said. “This is always a good matchup every year. Unfortunately, it probably means make or break playoffs, and we broke. We played our hearts out. I know they did too and sometimes, it just comes down to luck a little bit. They got the lucky end of the draw.”

Now, the Panthers and Eagles will have to play the waiting game to know who, for sure, will earn their bid into the playoffs. CHSAA had to push the end of the regular season back to Monday to accommodate for the late spring storm, meaning the bubble teams will have to wait a bit longer to learn their fates.

That answer can’t come soon enough.

“It’s now in the hands of the powers that be and I hope they respect the league and give us that opportunity to keep playing because these boys deserve to play in the postseason,” Kalisher said. “The question is who does the league send through, and what does CHSAA honor?”