PLAYERS TO WATCH
Riley Welsch, Sr., Jefferson Academy: A first-team Pikes Peak League selection, his 38 goals last season are the most by any player from a local school returning this spring. He also added 36 assists in 15 games for the Jaguars.
Travis Hitt, Sr., Monarch: Hitt led the Coyotes with 49 points last season, scoring 23 goals and adding 26 assists. His production will be important for the team to make a return trip to the playoffs this spring.
Dawson Santangelo, Jr., Dawson: The Mustangs return one of the top goalies in the state in Santangelo. He recorded a .588 save percentage and will play an important role for a team looking to make a run to its fourth consecutive state championship game appearance.
Tommy Miller, Jr., Fairview: One of four players to score 25 or more points for the Knights last year, Miller led the team with 17 assists and added 15 goals. Will be looked to as a leader for a young group.
Aidan Abram, Sr., Erie: The future Denver Pioneer was named a first team all-state defenseman for the Dawson Mustangs in 2018. Heading to the Erie program this spring, he will anchor what should be a strong defensive unit for the Tigers in their first year as a team.
Kyra Barnes, Sr., Fairview: Barnes was second on the team in goals with 35 and third in total points with 42 for the Centaurus Warriors, and the Boulder Valley program will look to her as a leader at its new home base.
The regular season for boys and girls lacrosse ends on May 4.
Boys: Five league champions will earn automatic bid to playoffs. The remaining 11 teams will be determined by the RPI, which will also seed all 16 teams in the playoff field. The Class 4A and 5A boys state championship games will be played at All-City Stadium in Denver on Monday, May 20. The games have been moved from Broncos Stadium at Mile High due to supercross and monster truck events that will be held there before the date of the games.
Girls: Six league champions will earn automatic bid to playoffs: The remaining 14 teams will be determined by the RPI, which will also see all 20 teams in the playoff field. The girls state championship game will be played on May 22 at the University of Denver.
Coach: Nick Voigt (second year)
2018 record: 5-10, 1-5 Front Range League
Returning starters: Stefan Fieler (Jr., defenseman), Torrance McCarty (Jr., defenseman/midfield), Peter Duffield (Jr., midfield), Luka Svoboda (Jr., midfield), Toby Williams (Jr., attackman), Quinn Egeland (Jr., defenseman).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The Panthers will have to work around losing 17 seniors and a couple of other players to different schools. Voigt likes the work his team has shown in the preseason and hopes the good habits installed now by the younger athletes will help the build the program up moving forward.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Peter Devlin (ninth year)
2018 record: 17-2, 5-0 Pikes Peak League: Lost in Class 4A state championship game
Returning starters: Dawson Santangelo (Jr., goalie), Jonathan Gruener (Sr., midfield).
Others to watch: Jack Ridilla (Sr., defenseman), Benji Gallegos (Sr., attackman), Spencer Sampliner (Jr., midfield), Phil Geraghty (Jr., midfield).
Outlook: The Mustangs will have a different look this year after losing 13 players, including two senior captains, from their team to new district programs at Erie and Mountain Range. Santangelo is back to help anchor the team, but the Mustangs will need to gel quickly with a new roster if they are to make a run back to the state championship game for a fourth straight year.
Coach: Nick Mandia (first year)
2018 record: played JV at Twin Peaks Charter Academy last year
Players to watch: Aidan Abram (Sr., defenseman), Timmy Beach (Jr., goalie), Sage Gardner (Sr., defenseman), Tyler Gardner (Sr., midfield).
Outlook: Despite being a brand new team, the Tigers will benefit with plenty of experienced players joining their roster. Some all-state players and Division I college commits come over from Dawson to anchor a defensive unit that is sure to be a strength right away. How fast a team of different players can come together will ultimately determine how far this team can go, which they feel can include a berth to the playoffs.
Coach: Matthew Kelley (fourth year)
2018 record: 6-9, 4-2 Front Range League
Returning starters: Jared Mizner (Sr., attackman), Dillon Tooman (So., attackman), Tommy Miller (Jr., midfield), Liam O'Brien (So., midfield), Tucker Catlin (Jr., midfield), Harry Pfeiffer (so, defenseman), Hudson Bush (So., defenseman), Ian Smith (Jr., defenseman), Joe Sikora (Jr., defenseman), Cole Teegarden (Sr., defenseman), Jake Zickerman (Sr., defenseman), Lucas Mills (Sr., faceoffs), Brooks Catlin (So., goalie).
Others to watch: Kaleb Manske (Jr., faceoffs), Colby Freeman (So., goalie), Chase Brucher (Jr., midfield), Caden Keating (Jr., midfield), Mass Ricci (Sr., midfield/attackman).
Outlook: Kelley has seen his team increase their win total in each of his first three seasons with the Knights and will look to do so again in 2019. A young team last year will see plenty of experience coming back, giving them more reason to believe they could add to their six wins from 2018. Doing so will be a challenge with a tough schedule that adds Mountain Vista (11-6, 5A quarterfinals in state) and Cherokee Trail (7-8).
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Kyle Doner (first year)
2018 record: played JV last year
Players to watch: Jack Peters (goalie), Brayden Peters (midfield), Ben Nappe (midfield).
Outlook: After playing JV the past few years, Holy Family will play a varsity schedule in 2019. Doner, an assistant coach with the program since it began, steps up as the head coach for the Tigers. Moving up to varsity will bring a step-up in competition for a team still looking to gain experience on the field for many athletes.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Cory Hughes (fourth year)
2018 record: 9-6, 2-3 Pikes Peak League
Returning starters: Riley Welsch (Sr., midfield), Tyler Phelps (Sr., midfield), Logan Gottlob (Sr., defenseman), Trevor Wahl (Jr., midfield), Jake O'Neill (Jr., defenseman), Joe Cesario (So., attackman), Christian Linderman (Sr., defenseman).
Others to watch: Aiden Shanks (So., midfield), Hunter Rodman (Sr., attackman), Jonah Delisa (Sr., defenseman), Maurice Nelson (Sr., defenseman).
Outlook: Following the best season in program history, Jefferson Academy has a goal of making a push to the playoffs in 2019. A strong, veteran senior class gives the team hope, as well as a good group of underclassmen. Thimsen feels his team is up to the challenge as they will face a strong schedule.
Coach: David Auday (19th year)
2018 record: 9-7, 5-1 Front Range League: Lost in first round of Class 5A state tournament
Returning starters: Eli Korac (Sr., goalie), Drew Tauson (Sr., attackman), Dylan Torres (Sr., midfield), Ty Brache (Jr., defenseman), Andrew Alvarado (Jr. defenseman), Robbie Buzanskas (Jr., midfield).
Others to watch: Braedan Wimer (So., attackman), Ben Rieken (Jr., attackman), Jack Gifford (Sr., midfield), Bryce Mayemura (Sr., midfield), Garrett Laughlin (Sr., midfield), Jacob Hilliard (So., defenseman), Brenden McKinney (Sr., defenseman).
Outlook: The Coyotes are coming off a season where they won their league title to secure a playoff bid. Auday says the team has great chemistry and a good senior class to lead the way. They will begin the season with state qualifier Cherry Creek and will travel to Pensacola, Fla., for games over spring break.
Note: Dawson Mustangs will play JV this year.
Coach: Kelsey Sheridan (first season)
2018 record: 8-8, 3-4 Metro League (played at Centaurus High School: Lost in first round of state tournament
Returning starters: Kyra Barnes (Sr., midfield), Ariana O'Brien (Sr., midfield), Isabella Bloomquist (So.), Kolbi Dietmeier (Sr.), Natasha Raglund (Sr.).
Others to watch: Sydney Smith (So.), Cassidy Marquis (Sr.), Brooke Dietmeier (So.), Annie Caplan (Jr.).
Outlook: The Knights will have a strong duo in Barnes (42 points) and O'Brien (32 points) to lead them this year under first-year coach Kelsey Sheridan. Fundamentals and team chemistry have been the focus in the preseason to get set for a tough schedule. With four of the first five games at home, Fairview will look to get off to a good start this season to set the tone.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Jordan Terhaar (first year)
Players to watch: Alex Vela (attackman/defenseman), Molly Farmer (midfield), Peyton Hsin (midfield), Ainsley Chapman (attackman), Ella Chapman (goalie).
Outlook: The Tigers will play six to eight games in their first year having a lacrosse program. Terhaar will be stressing fundamentals and teaching the game to a team filled with players who will be playing lacrosse for the first time. Since the Tigers are playing as an independent program, they will not be eligible for the postseason.