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Boys soccer: Legacy and Niwot celebrate league titles ahead of postseason

Legacy's Mateo Becerra Garcia leaps for a header against Fossil Ridge in the Front Range League championship game Thursday in Westminster. (Brent W. New/
Legacy’s Mateo Becerra Garcia leaps for a header against Fossil Ridge in the Front Range League championship game Thursday in Westminster. (Brent W. New/

WESTMINSTER — Legacy goalkeeper Wesley Hempelmann and Niwot coach Stephen Dimit seemed to have developed a close bond while recently with the Broomfield Soccer Club.

Seven miles apart Thursday night, they were crowned league champs. Their kudos to each other came from afar.

Dimit’s Cougars won at Riverdale Ridge 2-1 for their 10th straight win, securing their second 4A/3A Longs Peak League title in three years.

About 40 minutes later at North Stadium, Front Range League South champ Legacy beat the North’s Fossil Ridge 2-0 for the program’s third league title.

“I’ve coached a bunch of those boys in club, so I’m really happy to hear that,” Dimit said on the bus ride home. “I’ve been tracking them this year, so that’s awesome.”

The Cougars (12-3, 9-0 LPL) got goals from Jett Feiner and Javier Alvira before allowing their first goal in league play in the final minute Thursday. Feiner had scored on a penalty kick set up Cristian Perez, Dimit said. Alvira helped seal things, scoring his ninth of the season midway through the second half.

Dimit said he believes his team is playing their best soccer just ahead of the 4A postseason, outscoring teams 40-2 during their current 10-game winning streak. The switch may have come after their last-seconds loss to Centaurus on Sept. 13, which placed them with a record of 2-3.

“I’ll be honest, the loss to Centaurus, I think that was the moment guys reset and recaptured what we were trying to do,” Dimit said. “From that moment on, going into the Silver Creek game (which the Cougars won in double overtime) guys were working just a little bit harder and working better for each other.”

West of that Thursday, the Lightning (14-1, 8-1) got two more goals from reigning player of the year Cooper Stephens and Hempelmann delivered his 11th shutout of the season.

Stephens had scored in the 23rd on a cross into the box from Lucas Montera. Then in the 67th, he redirected a through pass from Tristan Maurek for his 15th goal of the year.

“This is huge for us,” Legacy coach Tony Romano said. “There is certainly a lot of people with subjective perspective but also there’s a lot of data to suggest that winning this league might be more difficult than winning a state championship.”

Winners of eight straight, Legacy regrouped following its 3-2 last-minute loss to Boulder on Sept. 22 (which also cost it its No. 1 rank) to win the league for the first time since 2019. Stephens scored nine times in seven games since the loss to the Panthers. Hempelmann posted seven consecutive shutouts.

Next is the state boys soccer postseason for all four classifications.

“We’re definitely confident going into it but we also have a chip on our shoulder,” Hempelmann said. “We lost to Boulder. That was a big loss for us. But we decided to turn things around and pick it up from there. And we look forward to doing great things.”

Legacy — second in this week’s CHSAA coaches poll and first in RPI — could likely get the top seed in the 5A state postseason, which starts Wednesday.

Niwot — seventh in the poll and eighth in RPI — will host the opening round of 4A, starting Thursday.

WESTMINSTER — Legacy’s Tate Hansen applies pressure to Fossil Ridge’s Dylan Whisenant in the Front Range League championship game Thursday, October 20, 2022.