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The Littleton High School soccer team earned a spot in the school record book as they were league champions for the first time since 1973.
“This was a very good season for us,” Lions coach Pedja Vajzovic said. “We started the season with the goal of getting to the playoffs. We got there by winning a league championship for the first time in more than 40 years. We won two playoff games but lost to a very good Centaurus team in the quarterfinals. I am proud of our players and they should be proud of all they accomplished this season.”
By winning the league championship, the Lions accomplished their goal of making the state playoff and they were seeded 15 in the 32-team state playoff bracket.
The Lions opened state tournament play at home Oct. 25 against 18-seeded Skyview and beat the Wolverines 4-1. Littleton took on No. 2-seeded Kennedy in the second round and outscored the Commanders, 3-1. The season ended for the Lions in the quarterfinals as they lost to No. 7-seeded Centaurus 4-1. Centaurus went on to earn state runner-up honors.
“Our strength this season was a very strong team defense,” Vajzovic said. “We had four very good fullbacks and good goalie play. We weren't a high-scoring team but we won because the opponents didn't score many goals against our defense. We only gave up 11 goals in 18 games.”
Senior Nasr AliAbid played defense as one of the center fullbacks.
“I played center midfield last season and I asked to play fullback this season to help our team,” AliAbid said. “Our defense was strong because we worked well together.”
He said he felt his speed and his ball-handling skills were important as a fullback.
“I am pretty good at both speed and ball-handling,” he said. “We played a lot of good opponents who had good forwards to press their attack. You need speed when the other team plays a long ball over the top to try to get it to one of their forwards. All the defenders needed speed to try to beat the other team's player to the ball and clear it away from our goal. Ball-handling skills are also important because, when a ball comes to you deep near you own territory you have to control it and work to kick it up the field and away from your goal.”
The Lions scored a total of 47 goals during the season with 13 different players scoring at least one goal.
Zack McGuire, a senior, was the scoring leader as he scored nine goals.
“This was a great high school soccer season. It was a lot better than I expected it to be,” he said. “We had a strong team last year but didn't get to state. This year we had great team chemistry, we worked hard in practice every day so we would be ready for every game. All the elements came together and we had a great season. Personally, I think it was the best season I have played for Littleton. It was the most fun because we all were friends and we really worked well together in our games.”
Vajzovic said this was a very experienced team, with nine seniors on the roster.
“We had four seniors on last season's team so we had a lot of kids coming back, including nine seniors and most of the seniors were starters,” the coach said. “We set out to finish what we started last season. Of course, they will graduate in June so we will have new players on the team next season. But we do have a number of players returning who had varsity experience this season, our junior varsity team finished third in their league so the future of Littleton soccer is bright.”
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