Only four miles separate Broomfield and Legacy high schools, but the talent between the two soccer programs cannot be measured by mere numbers.
Last week, the Lightning and Eagles earned the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in CHSAANow.com’s Class 5A coaches poll as fellow Front Range League teams Fairview and Boulder joined them in the top 10 at No. 4 and No. 5.
This week, the rankings shifted a bit as Broomfield dropped to No. 3 behind Valor Christian, Boulder moved up to No. 4 and Fairview fell to No. 8, but no soccer fan can deny the strength that lies within the FRL.
“I think it’s just awesome that we’re able to be in the strongest league in Colorado, because every single game is a battle and we just keep that momentum going and that prepares us for playoffs,” Legacy senior captain Tate Hansen said.
Legacy ended Broomfield’s 2021 run in the second round of the playoffs and rode that victory all the way to the semifinals. Lightning coach Tony Romano lauded the team’s incredibly successful campaign but believes that squad only scratched the surface of what this year’s team can accomplish.
“Last year, we had our most successful season in program history,” Romano said. “When a couple of people asked me about it, my response was it was not our best roster by roster, technical ability group, but it was the most successful, and these guys lived that and are aware of that. This group is very good technically. They have a lot of talent in all parts of the field. We have a very deep roster of talent as well, which makes me excited because I don’t worry about putting guys off the bench.”
Hansen and fellow senior captains Cooper Stephens and Parker Katz said the team is hungry for a championship ring, and that’s the only accolade they care about at this stage of the season.
The Lightning, now 4-0, have yet to give up a goal while returning some star-studded talent from last fall. Stephens dominated with 23 goals, the third-most in the classification, as now-junior Lucas Montera added 10 assists. Wesley Hempelmann stepped into the goal box to replace Ryan Nun, and he hasn’t faltered yet.
Katz attributes that success, both last year and this year, to keeping their heads in every single match.
“As a team, we don’t like to go into games undermining our opponents,” Katz said. “We need to make sure that we’re mentally tough and we know that not every game is guaranteed. You have to work for that game. You have to play every minute of that game. You have to work your butt off and just make sure you get to that point you need to be at.”
Broomfield, on the other hand, looks a bit different this year after longtime coach Jim Davidson stepped down to let Zach Hindman take the reins. The Eagles, too, have yet to file anything in the loss column but have seen a bit more adversity through their first four games.
While the Eagles managed to blank Cheyenne Mountain and Holy Family, they gave up one goal to Ralston Valley and took Castle View all the way to overtime. Hindman believes the latter game truly illuminated his team’s grit under pressure.
“I think the biggest thing that we saw was against a really good Castle View team,” he said. “We were down two goals with seven minutes left and ended up winning that game. It’s a testament to their mentality and the things that we have been hopefully coaching that they were able to keep the right mindset and go get that win, even though we were in a really bad spot.”
Hindman picked up right where Davidson left off and the Eagles haven’t missed a beat.
Senior captain Cooper Johnson attributed that good fortune to an increased level of camaraderie, both on and off the pitch. Hindman, for his part, has continued to weave Davidson’s mantra of total culture into the program, whether it be during competition or in the classroom.
“We’ve just been a bonding a lot,” Johnson said. “We’ve been spending a lot of time together off the field and enjoying each other’s company. We like to make everything a competition so it’s just a really good community that we have. All the boys are good people, and that’s what carries us through the season.”
Broomfield graduated its top scorer in Reyn Tillman, but this defense-minded squad shared the scoring responsibility well as eight boys in all managed at least one goal in 2021. They bring back a strong sophomore keeper, who secured 46 saves while only giving up 15 goals as a freshman.
Even with a new face at the head of the program, it seems Broomfield hasn’t changed much since taking the pitch again this year. After all, they have quite the legacy to continue after the exit of Davidson, who ended his boys coaching career with eight state titles and 11 state title game appearances.
“I mean, I don’t expect anything less from us,” senior outside wing Yosef Nunez said. “I know we’re a good school. I know what we’re capable of, so seeing (the rankings) just shows that we can keep our reputation.”