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Liberty headed to postseason
TCA, Palmer Ridge earn No. 1 seeds
Thursday was a bitter day for the Liberty boys’ soccer team, but on Sunday, life got a whole lot better.
Three days removed from an agonizing 1-0 loss to Doherty because of an erroneous redirect of a ball into their own net, the Lancers discovered the defeat had not cost them a spot in the 5A state tournament after all. Liberty (7-7-1) was one of the final teams selected for the 32-team tournament, getting the No. 30 seed. The Lancers will face No. 3 Heritage, a team that defeated Liberty during the regular season last year.
For senior captain Ross Johnson, who had the heartbreaking distinction of inadvertently causing the goal that led to the Doherty loss, seeing Liberty in the bracket was a dream come true.
“It’s one of the most fantastic feelings I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Johnson said. “I’m just so thankful that my own goal didn’t end our season, and I can’t think of a worse way to end your senior season than that. I got about 600 calls from my teammates and parents of the team, and it was a pretty joyous day.”
Lancers coach Gregg Braha was thrilled to be able to email his players and let them know about Liberty’s inclusion.
“We are pleasantly surprised we are playing,” said Braha, whose team lost four of its final five games. “We’re thrilled to be going anywhere, and we’re optimistic that we can at least give (Heritage) a game.”
Liberty was one of three Colorado Springs Metro League teams in the bracket, joining 12th-seeded Pine Creek (11-4), which will host No. 21 Ralston Valley (10-4-1) Wednesday, and No. 29 Doherty (8-6-1), which will travel to take on fourth-seeded Smoky Hill (11-1-3). The exclusion of Rampart (10-3-1) was perhaps one of the bigger surprises of the 5A bracket.
On the other end of the spectrum, The Classical Academy (14-1) received the 3A bracket’s No. 1 seed and will host 32nd-seeded Lake County (7-7). Palmer Ridge (13-1-1) was the city’s other No. 1 seed, receiving 4A’s top spot.
TCA has won 10 in a row, with Palmer Ridge carrying an eight-game winning streak into the tournament.
“I don’t know what to make of the No. 1 (seed), and I didn’t expect that,” Palmer Ridge coach Nick Odil said. “We feel really good about who we are and where we are, but it doesn’t really matter where you’re seeded. You’ve still got to play.”
A TCA victory in the first round Friday could give the Titans a second-round matchup against local rival St. Mary’s (7-6-2), the No. 16 seed that faces 17th-seeded Roaring Fork (10-3-1) Wednesday.
Colorado Springs Christian School, a 3A state quarterfinalist last year, got one of the final spots in that bracket with the 31st seed. The Lions (7-7) will take on No. 2 Colorado Academy (14-0-1).
Seven area 4A teams made the bracket, including half of the new eight-member Pikes Peak League. Coronado (8-7) was one of three CSML teams to qualify, receiving the 30th seed, and will play No. 3 Evergreen (11-1-3). If Palmer Ridge wins its opening-round game Thursday, the Bears could face No. 17 Valor Christian – the only team to defeat them this season – in the second round if Valor Christian defeats No. 16 Widefield (12-2-1) in the first round.