Cheyenne Mountain’s Lisa Long is ending her competitive soccer career on her terms and can move forward without regret after tearing through the Class 4A state tournament en route to a state title.
After years of playing youth, club and high school soccer, Long’s finale featured the last two of her 32 goals in an Indians uniform. The 32nd gave Cheyenne Mountain a 2-1 lead over No. 3 Evergreen in the final 15 minutes of the 4A state championship, and Cheyenne Mountain hung on behind the senior’s brace.
“It was incredible, honestly,” Long said. “I was so excited just to be able to play at state and then to score the first goal of the game was super fun. Kind of a dream come true just because I always wanted to play at that level, and to be able to be successful and be there was really fun.”
Long’s many postseason successes carried the long-shot, 21-seed Indians to another title, as she scored seven of the Indians’ 10 postseason goals over five games to earn Gazette Preps Girls’ Soccer Peak Performer of the Year.
“It was one of those things that she would kind of hang out, hang out, hang out and then all of the sudden she would find an opening,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Nikki Athey said.
“She got very confident with that 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper in the playoffs, and she put them away every time.”
Long and the Indians’ remarkable run started against Mead, the 12 seed. Long, seemingly setting the tone for what was to come, scored the golden goal in the first couple of minutes of extra time, which put Cheyenne Mountain into the second round and opened its collective eyes to what was possible after a 6-8 regular season.
“I think we all just came to this realization that we were able to do this and we belonged in this state tournament,” Long said.
That set up a win-or-go-home meeting with Air Academy, a league foe seeded fifth that beat the Indians 3-0 in April. The second meeting was much different. The Kadets and Indians went into the second period of extra time tied at 1 before Long put her team in the next round again, beating the Kadet keeper to the ball and converting.
“It was kinda a race to whoever could get there first. I just kinda stuck out my leg, took a tumble, so I didn’t see if it went in or not, but once I got up and looked and it was in, it was like the best feeling ever, just knowing that game was finally over because it was so long,” Long said.
“Besides state, that was definitely like the sweetest win all season.”
Long went on to score twice in a 3-1 win over Wheat Ridge in the quarterfinals — the Indians’ only win by multiple goals in the playoffs — before she scored the only goal in a semifinal victory over Silver Creek.
That set up a memorable exit against Evergreen at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“It was the best ending I could’ve asked for,” Long said. “I think that fueled my team a lot because we have eight seniors and a lot of us aren’t playing next year, so we kinda knew that this was it and we just put it all out on the field. Being able to have that memory as my last competitive soccer memory is absolutely incredible.”
Long is headed north again this fall, where she’ll start her college career at Denver exclusively as a student. Athey was certain Long could’ve played at the next level after a 16-goal, four-assist senior year, but the Pioneer-to-be is content with her competitive career as it stands.
“I’m just going to focus on academics,” Long said. “I’m sure I’ll play intramurals or club or something, but my hard-core soccer career is over at this point.”