HIGHLANDS RANCH — The Fairview boys lacrosse players know there are going to be setbacks along the way to building their program up to earning a winning reputation.
But the Knights feel they are right on the cusp of breaking through, and want to become the type of team that responds to every step backward with two steps forwards.
In what has begun as an otherwise strong 2019 season, Wednesday's nonconference road game against Highlands Ranch was a setback for the Knights. Despite leading 3-1 early in the game, the Fairview boys lost focus, as well as the lead, and eventually fell 10-6 at Shea Stadium.
Only a handful of moments after the loss, the Knights were already looking forward and thinking about how their future selves might avoid the mistakes that caused it.
"We're still growing," Knights sophomore defenseman Harrison Pfeiffer said. "We have a lot of young guys on this team but we want to keep getting better and we want to be one of the best teams in the state. We have a lot more positive vibe surrounding the team at school, in the locker room, on the field, just in general, and that's a good feeling."
The Knights (3-2), who went 6-9 last spring, have increased their win total in each of the past three seasons under fourth-year head coach Mathew Kelley. Having gotten off to a strong 3-1 start this season, Wednesday's loss was to the Falcons (3-2) was just their second loss of the season and first to an in-state opponent.
Fairview led 3-1 midway through the first quarter but the Falcons scored seven unanswered goals before Fairview halted the devastating run with a late goal just before the break. At halftime, Highlands Ranch led 8-4.
After the teams combined to score 12 goals in the first half, neither found the net in the third quarter. The Falcons finally broke the 13-minute scoreless stretch less than a minute into the final frame and though the Knights cut the lead to three, the Falcons scored with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game to pull ahead comfortably and for good.
"As a team, we kind of lost it a little bit," Knights sophomore goaltender Brooks Catlin said. "But in the fourth quarter we really started to come back and you could see we really wanted to bring home that win. We just came up short today and we need to think about next game and improving from this. We're all brothers on our team and all we want to do is get better."
Catlin was solid in the net, making 14 saves. Sophomore Liam O'Brien, who leads the Knights with nine points on the season, had a hat trick.
The Knights, who lost three games by two goals or fewer last spring, will look to get back on track when they host sixth-ranked Rock Canyon (4-2) on Friday. It will be the Knights' first home game of the season.
"The work we have to do is probably more in our mental state and to try to start faster in the next game," Kelley said. "We're trying to instill the right culture and that takes time. It takes years. Last year we had three or four games that were really close and winning a few of those is basically the difference between being 6-9 and 9-6. Those are the games we're hoping to flip this year so we can keep moving in the right direction."
Highlands Ranch 10, Fairview 6
At Shea StadiumFairview (3-2) 3 1 0 2 — 6
Highlands Ranch (3-2) 4 4 0 2 — 10
Goals — Fairview: O'Brien 3, T. Catlin, Brucher, Mizner; Highlands Ranch: Hammond 4, Boling 3, Lowe, Smith, Karl.
Assists — Fairview: Mizner, Brucher; Highlands Ranch: Naves 2, Smith 2, Lowe.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: B. Catlin (48-10-14); Highlands Ranch: Monroe (48-6-3).