By Paul Meadors
If there’s a cloud above nine, Brandon Goldman was sure riding high on top of it. The unlikeliest of heroes had just blasted a go-ahead goal in overtime against Liberty-Bakersfield in the Division 1 Valley championship game, launching a perfect high-arching shot over the Liberty goalie in overtime and propelling the Bears to a 1-0 victory. Pure elation ensued.
His smile stretched for miles. He raised both fists in the air and then pointed to the student section who was chanting his name. Nothing in this world could take this away from him.
“I don’t even remembering it happening, it just happened,” added Goldman still with an I-don’t-believe-what-just-happened look.
Here’s how it played out. After a short corner on the right side, the Liberty defense focused on the front line offense players and totally forgot about Goldman. Viktor Dolberg passed to Stephan Morris, then passed to Goldman who fired it in just over the outstretched goalie for the 20-yards strike.
“I knew I had to put in away; I saw the gap, they weren’t coming to mark me,” said Goldman, finally grounded after a group of friends hoisted him on top of their shoulders and paraded him all over the field. “I called for it as loud as I could, got it, and went in from there.”
And when the final whistle sounded, his teammates gave him the royal treatment as well. With a team loaded with star players which translated to a No. 10 national ranking and No. 2 in the state, it had been easy to lose Goldman on the field; he was a defensive player and hadn’t scored a goal all year. You bet everyone knows his name now.
Even Bears Coach John Spurgeon wasn’t focused on Goldberg on the play.
“I really didn’t see Brandon,” said Spurgeon. “I didn’t see him run to the top. He hit the perfect ball.”
Buchanan entered the game with a sparkling 19-2-1 record, but Liberty, at 19-4-3, countered with a formidable game plan, playing solid defense on Buchanan stars JT Arruda and Ryan Arkelian.
With such a talented team, Spurgeon knew he had to set the team with the right mindset, especially in the playoffs when one shot on goal could mean upset. Said Spurgeon: “We told them from the get-go, from the start of the playoffs, that we just need to take care of our business on the day. We don’t care about yesterday, we don’t care about tomorrow.”
Yesterday included winning the TRAC with a record of 9-1 and gaining national exposure. But this day belonged to Goldman and his Buchanan teammates.
With a gold medal hanging proudly around his neck, Goldman breathed deep in the moment and took it all in.
“That was the best feeling I ever had in my life,” said Goldman. “There’s nothing better when you play for all these years and then imagine this moment right here.”