Soccer in spring—no problem for the Colorado Academy Boys Soccer Team! The May Marvel Mustangs defeated the Frontier Academy Wolverines to end a perfect season (14-0) with the 3A State Championship.
Sure, CHSAA usually schedules Boys Soccer during the fall, but the CA team was not fazed by a restructuring of seasons during this pandemic year. The boys gave an unparalleled demonstration of CA resilience on Saturday, May 1, through full regulation play, plus two overtime periods, on a day when temperatures hit the mid-eighties.
Co-Captain Jared Goldstein was one of four Seniors (Goldstein, Peter Carpenter, Luke Wharton, and Nick Maffei) who had traveled to the State Championship game as Freshmen, only to be disappointed. “This was four years in the making,” Goldstein says. “I knew this was the last real soccer game I would play—both for CA and competitively—so that was the motivation for me to get it done.”
“From the beginning of the school year, this team—led by a group of 13 Seniors—was hungry for this moment,” adds Coach Gabe Bernstein. “They have trained so hard—in areas like strength and conditioning, fitness, and ball work—and the preparation these players did laid the foundation for their ability to play through two overtimes and win.”
Getting it done
Playing at Weidner Stadium in Colorado Springs, home of the Switchbacks, the Number 1 seed Mustangs played their tightly controlled game with patient possessions from the start. The strategy worked, as Junior Nico Watters passed to Co-Captain Nick Maffei, who put the Mustangs on the scoreboard 13 minutes into the first period.
But the Wolverines, who came into the game as an underdog 14th seed, proved to be scrappy and persistent on both offense and defense. They had no shots on goal in the first half, but they came out more aggressively in the second half, and at 17 minutes, they scored, tying the game at 1-1.
The tie held up through regulation play, sending the game into two overtime periods, with each team seeking the “golden goal.”
“At the end of regulation, we just reminded the team of how capable they have been throughout the entire season during moments like this,” Bernstein says. “And by the end of the first overtime period, we had a more tactical conversation about where we saw cracks in Frontier’s defense, which allowed our attack to find more success. A lot of credit should go to my assistants for modeling composure for these players in a highly charged situation.”
Bringing it home
At the start of the second overtime period, the NFHS announcer was predicting that the game was destined to go to penalty kicks. But in a no-nonsense “we are ready to get this over” move, Nick Maffei took a well-placed pass from Senior Grady Behrhorst and again found the back of the net. This time it was for gold.
“Grady beat his guy, found me, and set that up so nicely,” Maffei says. “All the credit goes to him.”
“Grady could have taken the shot,” Bernstein adds. “But the unselfishness of his pass, so Nick would have an easier shot, represents the approach of this team all season long and made me so proud.”
The ball had barely hit the net before the team piled onto Maffei and began the celebration of CA’s fifth Boys Soccer State Championship, triumphantly carrying the trophy to celebrate with their fans.
“What a great thing for our community,” says Director of Athletics Bill Hall. “Congrats to Gabe and the boys. They were rewarded for hard work going back more than a year. Winning never gets old.