In 12 previous seasons as boys' soccer coach at Pine Creek, Ben Corley saw some pretty good teams progressively climb the ladder to the top rung of 5A, only to fall short each time.
Then came the lucky 13th. After dropping their first game 1-0 at Denver East, the Eagles combined a blend of timely scoring with a suffocating defense and brewed the program's first state title Nov. 9 in a double-overtime win over Rock Canyon.
"It's still surreal," Corley said. "It's been a long time coming. We've had good teams in the past, but in soccer, you've got to get on a hot streak and win tight games. This is the year we finally had everything fall the right way."
From Michael Steffy's last-second header to beat Lakewood in the first round of the playoffs, to clutch goalkeeping by senior David Meyer and a fortuitous kick from Jay Morales, whose only goal of the season clinched the gold ball at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
"Each game had a different element, and a different piece of the team stepped up," Corley said. "You never knew where it was going to come from. We had a group of guys that worked hard, but had fun doing it. We had the right chemistry of players."