The 27-seeded Heritage Eagles entered the second-round game of the Class 5A state girls soccer tournament on May 12 looking to keep up the string of defeating higher-seeded teams as they faced 11-seeded Legacy in a game played in North Stadium in Westminster. Despite a determined Eagles effort, Legacy won the game, 3-1.
Heritage advanced to the second round by defeating sixth-seeded Fruity-Monument 3-1 in the May 9 first round of the state playoffs.
The Heritage challenge of playing a talented Legacy team was compounded about two minutes into the game when there was a hard collision at the mouth of the Eagles' goal, resulting in the official giving senior goalie Ashleigh Maguire a red card. She had to leave the game and was replaced in goal by sophomore Tara Hoffman but the Eagles had to remove one of the field players for the rest of the game.
“I am so proud of these girls. They fought hard and didn't let the fact they were one player down impact the intensity of their efforts,” Eagles coach Kia Gudewicz said. “This has been an up-and-down season for us. But our team strength all season has been the ability of our athletes to work together. We really came together down the stretch of the season."
Legacy got a breakaway in the first two minutes of the game. The foul called gave them a free kick that they turned into points. Heritage came back and scored a goal with 22:44 left on the first-half clock. The Eagles were awarded a free kick about 20 yards from the Lightning goal. The free kick sent the ball into the goal area. Defenders and attackers battled for possession until Caitlin Brown got the ball to Julia Best, who kicked the ball into the goal for Heritage to tie the score 1-1.
The tie didn't last long as the Lightning responded with a goal about 30 seconds later to take the lead for good. Legacy added a second-half goal to make the final score 3-1.
Best, a junior midfielder, scored the goal for Heritage and Brown had an assist. Sophomore Tara Hoffman moved in as goalie with more than 38 minutes remaining in the first half and played the remainder of the game. Unofficially, she made eight saves on 12 shots on goal.
Hoffman said she was excited when she took over as the goalie for Heritage.
“It was exciting to be in goal in the playoffs, but there were also some butterflies,” she said.
Tthe Eagles finished the season with a 7-9-1 overall record and finished fifth in the Continental League with a 4-5-1 record.