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Girls soccer: Legacy’s Juliauna Hayward named player of the year

Senior netted 17 goals and 22 assists this season

BROOMFIELD, CO - JUNE 13:Legacy High School's Juliauna Hayward poses for a portrait on Monday, June 13, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)
BROOMFIELD, CO – JUNE 13:Legacy High School’s Juliauna Hayward poses for a portrait on Monday, June 13, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

It was the humdrum days of the spring soccer season when Legacy and Broomfield met on the pitch in Mid-April. A little too far out to be discerning postseason position yet deep enough to feel the wear on the body, it could’ve simply been your everyday hokum if not for the crosstown rivalry bragging rights, the undefeated records at stake, or the rosters smeared with state-title contending talent.

It was more of the grind, so Lightning senior Juliauna Hayward and her teammates decided to break it up with an impromptu dance party.

“The day before we played Broomfield, which unfortunately we lost, we did team bonding and we did a big dance party,” Hayward recalled with a smile. “We had a dance competition between two groups, and it was so much fun. And I think that helped us going forward because it made us come so much closer together.”

Hayward let out a soft-spoken laugh when asked if she’d won the competition. She was certain she did. Yet while the verdict is still out on that, the prized soccer senior had more than proved her merits on the pitch.

Overwhelmingly voted the best player in the area by local coaches, Hayward was named the 2022 girls soccer player of the year.

“I can’t speak higher of a person or a player,” Legacy coach Heather Solar said, recalling one story after another about her star player. “She is by far one of the most impactful players I’ve ever coached, both on and off the field.”

Hayward hadn’t played high school soccer her freshman or sophomore seasons due to development academy rules but quickly instilled herself as a leader on the Lightning by her second season.

Solar said her star’s place ahead of the team was quickly realized in the spring. She pointed to a time when Hayward had finished some team sprints in the preseason. Instead of resting, though, she went back to do more with some teammates who were struggling behind.

“She’s like, ‘Let’s finish these together,’” Solar said. “She didn’t have to do that. That was just a pure example of Juliauna, who was always team-first.”

In the games, Hayward was a revelation in the midfield for the Lightning, who touted one of the state’s most lethal scoring attacks. The senior, with a burst unparalleled to anyone else in the area, scored 17 goals and had a team-leading 22 assists in leading Legacy to the 5A quarterfinals, where it lost to eventual-champ Grandview.

Her coach commented that her numbers could’ve been bigger but she’d been more interested in setting the table for others.

Among those she connected with was 5A’s leading scorer Kendall Rippley, who finished with the classification’s most goals in more than a decade at 34.

The two had a strong bond on the pitch. Their give-and-go setups were at times breathtaking.

“Being able to finally connect with her was amazing,” Hayward said. “We’d been in-state rivals in club (soccer) and I’d played against Kendall the last few years, and she’s stellar. When they’d score, it’s always her hitting an upper-90 shot and I’m like ‘Dang, she’s legit.’ And just being able to finally connect with her was amazing.”

Hayward and Rippley were named to the first team on the CHSAA 5A and Front Range League lists. Hayward was one of two area midfielders on 5A’s first team along with Broomfield’s Reagan Kotschau, and Rippley was joined by Eagles forward Maddie Brady.

Hayward, meanwhile, was tabbed player of the year in the league.

Next, Hayward is headed to CU. The senior had been recruited by the likes of Duke, UCLA and Clemson. After initially committing to Duke as a freshman, she later changed her commitment to Boulder.

“It just felt like home,” she said.