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Photo by Sean Dougherty

Northfield High School boys soccer team clinched its second straight 4A State Championship with a 3-0 win against Battle Mountain of Edwards Nov. 12.

Coming into the game with a league record of 7-0 and an overall record of 16-1-1, the second-seeded Northfield team took the lead in the fourth minute with a goal by senior Jack Freimann, who earned Player of the Game.

“Jack’s goal gave us an instant shot of confidence,” said senior Zach Liptzin, opening up an advantage that Battle Mountain could not overcome.

With only four returning starters, Northfield’s win this year wasn’t assured. The team went undefeated last year at 20-0 and beat Mullen 1-0 to win the 2021 state championship.

“Coming off of last year, I knew the team could still be very good,” said Coach Jason Keever. “I also knew how much more character it would take to repeat winning a championship.

“There is just so much more pressure, so many more distractions, the collective ‘we’ can so easily turn into ‘me’, and I knew we had to fight that at all costs.” Liptzin agreed, noting that the goal for this year wasn’t to win a championship but to “preserve the culture of Northfield soccer.”

That culture of winning has been long in the making for Keever and Northfield.

The Nighthawk soccer program started in 2015 with just a JV team. In their inaugural varsity season in 2018 they went 5-10. But under Keever’s steady hand — he has guided the team since the beginning — the Nighthawks have soared.

“The early years were incredibly difficult, so hats off to the founding class for paving the way,” Keever said. “I always knew that if we all believed in a long-term vision, stuck to the process day-by-day and year-over-year, and held tightly to our core values – a state title was always going to be within our grasp.”

Although Northfield’s soccer program will lose eight starters next year, the team is optimistic about the future, as soccer at Northfield is about more than just scores.

“The culture will continue,” said senior Jack Dougherty.

Added Liptzin, “A repeat doesn’t always have to mean winning, but to step into the role of the seniors who depart. There is always room.”

“My highest praise to this group, and the seniors especially,’’ Keever said. “They are a remarkable group of young men who devoted themselves to each other, the process, and to having no regrets no matter how the season finished.

“I will miss them greatly, but I am proud to say they have left behind an amazing program for the returners and younger classmen to carry forward.”

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