Freedom makes playoffs, hosts match Saturday
EDWARDS – Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Of course not, as Bluto Blutarsky said in “Animal House.” And it’s not over for the Freedom men’s indoor soccer team either.
There will be playoffs for Flight D of the Premiere Arena Soccer League and the Freedom will be hosting the Northern Colorado Cutthroats at the WECMRD Field House Saturday at 7 p.m.
After a series of league rulings, the Freedom is the No. 2 seed and the Cutthroats are No. 3. The No. 1 Fort Collins Fury will be hosting the Golden Strikers in the other semifinal.
And since most the of the Freedom players thought that their season was done after a 6-6 tie against the Fury last week, the local side is thrilled with a new lease on life.
“It’s so cool. I didn’t know what to expect,” the Freedom’s Matt Zaremba said. “To make it as the second seed as a first-year team is just a testament to what the guys have been doing, what WECMRD has been doing and what Brandt has been doing.”
Freedom head coach Brandt Marott was already getting ready for Saturday’s game as the team was convening for practice Wednesday.
“It’s been intense,” Marott said. “The guys are very excited by the opportunity. In our first season, we didn’t honestly know where we stood. After the regular season, we know that on any given day, we can play with anybody and who knows what can happen?”
Heat cooled off
Lots is the answer. The Premier Arena Soccer League is a semipro league with teams all over the country serving as a feeder to the six-team Pro Arena Soccer League. The Denver Dynamite is Colorado’s pro team and their official Premiere League affiliate is the Highlands Ranch Heat.
Where this becomes relevant to the Freedom is that that Dynamite and Heat were double-rostering players during the season, which is against the rules of both the Pro and Premiere Leagues and the Heat had to forfeit its final three games.
With uneven scheduling – some teams in Flight D play a few teams twice and other teams once – the Premiere League disqualified the Heat and put in a four-team playoff. Lest anyone think the Freedom in some way backed into the postseason, the local side beat the Heat, 9-7, to open the season at Highlands Ranch in their only meeting of the season.
The winners of the two semifinal games will meet the Saturday after next with a berth to nationals in Las Vegas on the line. If the Freedom were to advance that far, John Steffans really ought to be brought on board.
The Freedom and the Cutthroats split their season series. Northern Colorado handed the locals their only loss of the season – a 6-2 verdict – on Jan. 10 on the Front Range. The Freedom returned the favor with a thrilling 5-4 win Jan. 30 at the WECMRD Field house.
The team will be using the experience of those two games for Saturday’s rubber match.
“They play with two defenders back and that gives us a lot of room in the midfield to play,” Marott said. “We’re going to be working on some drills to draw them out of their defensive zone to get some more scoring opportunities.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.