Soccer player Caylin Lyubenko once again provided Grandview's offensive punch in crunch time and the Wolves' defense once more sealed the deal. Lyubenko, a junior midfielder, scored both Grandview …
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Soccer player Caylin Lyubenko once again provided Grandview's offensive punch in crunch time and the Wolves' defense once more sealed the deal.
Lyubenko, a junior midfielder, scored both Grandview goals and the Wolves held off Arapahoe in the second half for a 2-1 victory in the Class 5A state championship girls soccer game held May 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
Last season, Lyubenko tallied the game-winning goal in Grandview's 1-0 overtime win over Broomfield in the state championship game.
The win over Centennial League rival Arapahoe was sweet for Grandview, especially since the boys team lost the state title game to the Warriors last fall. And, the Wolves tied the Arapahoe girls 2-2 early in the regular season.
“I'm so happy I could do it again,” said Lyubenko. “This is what we worked for all season. The rivalry between Arapahoe and Grandview is pretty big. We played them once during the regular season and they got a lucky goal, I would say, to tie it up, and our boys lost in the fall and we wanted redemption. We wanted to beat them because they thought they were going to win and we knew they wouldn't.”
Grandview (17-2-1) won its fourth state championship in the past five seasons.
“This program has always been good,” added Lyubenko. “It started five years ago and we had one season off but we're back. We're back-to-back.”
Lyubenko and Arapahoe's Audrey Weiss traded goals early in the first half, and then Lyubenko collected what proved to be the winning goal to give Grandview a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Arapahoe kept pressure on Arapahoe the second half but the Wolves, who allowed just 10 goals in 20 games this season, maintained the lead.
“We dominated the second half,” said Arapahoe coach Mark Hampshire, who is also the boys coach. “Unfortunately they had two good looks and finished them both. We had six good looks and didn't finish but one.
“Soccer is the most fickle game in the world. A lot of things have to go right to finish a big game like this one. The kids know that it is an amazing accomplishment to get the opportunity to play for a state title. It's an experience like no other, that cannot be duplicated in any other soccer scenario.”
Arapahoe finished the season with a 15-4-1 record but failed to capture its 10th state title. The last state championship for Arapahoe came in 2006. For Grandview it was only a shootout semifinal loss to eventual state champion Mountain Vista in 2017 title that prevented the Wolves from winning five titles in a row.
Grandview coach Tari Wood said she would have liked to have had a bigger lead in the second half but was confident the Wolves' back line, led by freshman center back Taylor Gentry and senior keeper Maddie Livingston, could hold on.
“It did get a little chippy in the second half but we were ready,” said Wood. “We talked about that they are going to go through you and they are going to go hard so play the ball quick. That's what we kept doing, staying in front.
“With the pressure they were putting on us, we knew the space was in the corners. We tried to get it to the corners. Our team does play good defense. I wanted to be up on them. I would have liked to have another one or two, but being up is a whole lot better than being down. We can by dynamic of offense but we are solid on defense.”
Gentry knows that the Wolves' success starts with defense.
“They gave it to us hard but we held it back there and got the win,” said Gentry. “If we don't have our good defensive line then we are not going to win.”
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