Published: June 26, 2013
Brooke Braden took over the offensive workload for the Air Academy girls' soccer team when Caren Nelson went down with a season-ending injury during the spring.
On Wednesday, when Cheyenne Mountain's Amy Eckert couldn't make the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State soccer game because she was sick, Braden was called in. She turned out to be the difference.
Braden scored twice for the Black team, including the game-winning goal with less than 5 minutes to play in the girls' game at the first All-State soccer games played at District 20 Stadium on Wednesday.
The boys' game saw the White team score three goals in the last 10 minutes to earn a 4-4 draw.
The fact that Braden was able to substitute for Eckert highlighted the fact that the girls' game had plenty of Pikes Peak region players.
"I was really excited because I wasn't expected to play," Braden said.
CHSCA president-elect Nancy Sibley was instrumental in bringing the games to Colorado Springs, rather than Denver, as has been customary. The switch led to 15 area girls on the two teams and two local coaches - Cheyenne Mountain's Tomas Martinez and TCA's Blake Galvin (subbing for Mountain Vista's Theresa Echtermeyer, who recently underwent surgery).
Cheyenne Mountain's Hannah Gerdin also scored for Black.
"On our side all three goals (were locals), two were Air Academy and one was Cheyenne Mountain," Martinez said. "It's nice to have that happen."
The boys' game saw just four local players among the 37 listed on the rosters. One of those was recent Pine Creek graduate Ryan Jeffers, who took great pride in being named to the team.
"It was very exciting, I was just happy I got to play on it one more time," said Jeffers, who played his home games at D-20. "All the stuff that (coach Ben) Corley's done to fight for me to get on 5A first-team all-state, which got me in this position to play, was a great opportunity for me."
In the girls' game, TCA goalie Claire LaValley enjoyed not only the local flair, but also the variety of girls from the three classifications.
"So many people look at 4A and 5A schools, and they're good," said LaValley, headed to play at Taylor.
"But we have a lot of skill in 3A too, so it was good to show that."