Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
COMMERCE CITY — Broomfield senior Maddie Brady was on the biggest high school stage Wednesday night – exactly where the best players in the state belong. For her it was a return from injury, into supernova, a brilliant burst of energy en route to one last high school goal. And it proved bittersweet.
Grandview’s Naomi Clark, another of the state’s savviest players, countered Brady’s first-half goal with two in a 90-second span early into the second and finished with a hat trick in the Class 5A final at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Because of it, Grandview snubbed Broomfield’s hope of repeating in a 3-1 result.
“In this game, you get the feel of the highs and the lows,” Brady said. “And this one was definitely a low. It’s just a part of the game and a part of life.”
In California for club soccer when her team won its first 5A title last June, the forward sensation had then been sidelined last week with her second concussion of the season.
To the Eagles’ rejoice, though, she was cleared to go against 5A’s stingiest defense.
“She worked herself through the concussion protocol and then comes on tonight without really much training,” coach Jim Davidson said. “Obviously was probably a little worried about contact and getting into the match, but then she goes on to score a beautiful first goal.”
The reigning 5A player of the year, a Michigan State commit, gave Broomfield a 1-0 lead headed into the half.
Coming in the 36th minute, she put the Wolves’ backline behind her and beat keeper Jordan Nytes to a through ball just in front of the box. Then with Nytes out of position, she took a sidestep and rolled her 20th career goal into an empty net.
It was just the fifth goal Grandview had allowed this spring and third in these playoffs.
“It’s just too bad that we switched off for the first five minutes in the second half,” Davidson sighed. “It was a talking point at halftime. Let’s deal with the first five minutes and we just didn’t. We lost our concentration for a few minutes, and they went and won the game.”
Clark scored in the 45th and 46th minutes to give the Wolves the lead, then added her third of the night and 20th of the season in the final minutes.
Prior to it, the junior had scored twice in a 3-1 win over Legacy in the quarterfinals and had the overtime winner against No. 1 Valor Christian in the semifinals.
“Honestly, I knew I had to go out and score or one of us had to score if we wanted to go home state champions,” Clark said as fans screamed in joy behind her. “I just calmed down and tried to finish as best as I could.”
The finals meetup rekindled a rivalry that has simmered under the state soccer scene’s brightest lights for much of the last decade. The fourth meeting since 2015, Grandview had beaten the Eagles on its state title runs in 2015, ‘16 and ’18 – twice coming in finals and once in the semis.
Its latest, on a calm evening at the Colorado Rapids’ home field, gave the Wolves their state-most sixth 5A title.
Meanwhile, Broomfield’s season ended with its sixth finals appearance over the last nine seasons. The Eagles’ year couldn’t have started much better as they were ranked first in the nation by United Soccer Coaches for a period in March and April. Then things got tougher, and injuries demanded resiliency, as they poured into their bench for minutes and got enough to return to the pinnacle game.
“They’re a group that is incredibly resilient and they have immense love and respect for each other, and that’s why they had a next-player-up mentality,” Davidson said. “They all did it for the cause. This was one of my favorite teams to coach even though the result didn’t work out for us tonight.”