LOUISVILLE — The Monarch boys lacrosse team isn't likely to emerge from what promises to be a brutal early stretch of games with a winning record.
Despite their standing at No. 8 in the CHSAANow.com preseason rankings, there's a likely scenario in which the Coyotes enter the month of April with two or fewer wins in their first seven games. That reality became more likely when the final buzzer sounded on a 10-4 loss to No. 4-ranked Columbine in the Coyotes home opener on Friday.
But whatever their early record is at the end of March, the Coyotes won't waiver on their stated goal of winning the 5A Front Range League title. And veteran head coach David Auday, for one, thinks that maybe taking some early lumps won't be the worst thing in the world if it prepares the Coyotes for a stronger finish.
"The prize is to win league, it always has been," Auday said. "When I created this schedule, it was done in a way that once we get to league play, we're going to be ready to roll. And we will. We will be ready. The goal of winning the league championship will be in fruition. The challenge is to stay positive and to get better every day between now and then. These kids will keep their eye on the prize."
Standing in the way of the Coyotes (1-2) building any momentum in their home opener, Rebels (2-0) goaltender Gavin Beilman made several impressive stops on his way to nine saves in Friday's non-conference game. Behind Beilman's strong effort, the Rebels led 1-0 after the first quarter. The Coyotes tied the game briefly when Jared Hodell scored his fourth goal of the season two minutes into the second quarter but the Rebels responded immediately with a goal on their next possession. Three unanswered goals gave Columbine a 4-1 lead before Travis Hitt scored with 16 seconds left in the first half to pull the Coyotes within two at halftime.
Monarch's Dylan Torres scored to cut the Columbine lead to win early in the third quarter but the Rebels again responded with four unanswered goals to pull away. They led 8-3 to after the third quarter and outscored the Coyotes 2-1 in the fourth.
"When you're playing an elite team like Columbine, you just can't make mistakes," Auday said. "In the first quarter, we executed the blueprint. We were having four-minute possessions, doing great. Then it got away from us, we couldn't win any face-offs and they got too many chances and put together a couple runs. But we had some stretches where we showed our character."
Hitt and Griphen Jolly each has five goals and three assists on the season and the pair is now tied for the Coyotes team lead with eight points apiece.
With a week off before their next game, the Coyotes will hit the road to play their third-straight in-state ranked team in the form of the defending 5A state champion and No. 2-ranked Cherry Creek Bruins next Friday. After that, the Coyotes will head off for a spring break trip to Texas where they will face even more tough competition.
"We're playing the defending state champs next and then, get this, it doesn't get any easier in Texas," Auday said. "Two of those teams are super elite and the third is darn good."
Columbine 10, Monarch 4
At Monarch H.S.Columbine (2-0) 1342—10Monarch (1-2) 0211—4
Goals — Columbine: Taylor Gustafson 4, Gabe Mein 2, Tanner Hollens, Will Chizlett, Nate Surd, Leo Grossman; Monarch: Griphen Jolly, Travis Hitt, Jared Hodell, Dylan Torres.
Assists — Columbine: Gabe Mein, Nate Surd, Taylor Gustafson; Monarch: Dylan Torres.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Columbine: Gavin Bielman (48-4-9); Monarch: Eli Korac (48-10-10).