Key goals at key moments put No. 22 Liberty in the quarterfinals of the boys' state soccer tournament for the first time in six years.
Ryan Kenyon scored with less than four minutes remaining before half and Klinton Spencer scored less than two minutes after Poudre had tied the game to give the Lancers a 2-1 win over the No. 27 Impalas in the second round of the Class 5A tournament on Wednesday at District 20 Stadium.
"Our two scorers scored today," Liberty coach Gregg Braha said. "Everybody knows that's who's coming, but they're the ones who are going to make the plays happen for us."
The Lancers will play at No. 19 Denver East on Saturday. The Angels knocked off No. 3 Rangeview on Wednesday.
Spencer's game-winner went off some part of him, as he crashed the goal and collided with the goalie and a defender, knocking the ball into the net.
"I pretty much threw my body into it," said Spencer, who leads the Lancers with 17 goals. "I think it hit my knee, maybe my head. Who knows? I was just trying to put it in the back of the goal."
Former Liberty coach Mike Goyden, who told The Gazette the Lancers' last trip to the quarterfinals came in 2007, was on hand in the first half to watch his old team go up 1-0. Kenyon corralled a great cross from Jaylen Thompson, made a quick move and then perfectly placed his shot past Poudre goalie Hector Torales. The goal gave the Lancers the lead heading into the break.
"It's extremely big," Kenyon said of the timing. "It's the best feeling."
That goal gave momentum to Liberty going into the locker rooms. But when Hector Rodriguez tied the score with less than five minutes elapsed in the second half, the tide looked to have shifted quickly.
Liberty knew to take advantage of the Impalas' excitement.
"You really want to hit a team back right after they score and relax," Braha said.
That's what they did. Kenyon put a cross into the box. Sean Van Wijk headed the ball. Sullivan got a touch and put it on net. While Torales stopped the shot, he couldn't catch it. Instead, the ball deflected toward a Poudre defender standing on the goal line. Spencer threw himself at the ball. Somehow he connected, putting the Lancers ahead for good.
It also put them into the quarterfinals - not a shock to those on the Liberty bench.
"I liked our draw," Braha said. "I liked our side of the bracket. I liked being the 22 seed.
"... We're just playing our best soccer right now. We had a win streak of three games, then we lost a couple. Now we're winning again. Now, we're starting to pick it up and I think the guys understand this is playoff soccer, which is a different level, a different stress level, as well as a different playing level."