BOULDER — Only days after a resounding season-opening victory that exacted a small measure of revenge from last season’s opener, while also marking a successful debut for coach Matt Fox, the Boulder boys lacrosse team was eager to take on this monumental challenge.

On Monday, that challenge came in the form of Kent Denver, one of Colorado’s perennial powers and a leading favorite to capture this year’s state championship. Yet the Panthers knew they would have to play a near-perfect game in order to topple the Sun Devils, and an early rash of penalties made perfection an impossible task.

Playing a man down for much of the first quarter, the Panthers fell into an deep early hole they could never crawl out of en route to a 17-5 loss against the defending state runner-up. Kent Denver (1-0) scored eight times within the first 6 minutes and led 12-0 after the first quarter.

“We served five minutes of penalties out of the first six minutes of the game, and we spotted them eight,” Fox said. “That was really our undoing, those quick penalties. After that, I’m proud of the heart they showed. That was a tough team we played. All the credit to Kent. They’re going to have a great season, but if we keep growing, maybe we’ll have a chance to see them again later.”

Last week, the Panthers ushered in the Fox era with a thrilling 8-7 overtime victory against Chaparral. Despite getting hired less than one month ago to replace Matt Kelley, who had guided the program for 10 years, Boulder still was able to give its coach a win in his debut against a team that handed the Panthers a 15-2 defeat in last year’s opener. Although Boulder was outmatched by Kent, Fox was pleased with the way his club kept battling after getting buried early.

“What this team has is heart,” Fox said. “They had a coaching transition very close to the season, and you saw in the game last week that they can rally. We knew we were going to have a big test. This was a tough one, but we were glad to take it on. We’ll learn from this and continue to get better.”

Sophomore Brandon Jacobs scored two goals for Boulder while senior Bryant Jacobs added a goal and two assists, although their efforts were far too little to overcome Kent Denver’s firepower. The Sun Devils led 15-2 at halftime before Kent coach Tom Graesser began using his bench liberally while slowing down the pace during the second half.

Five different Kent Denver players scored at least two goals, an effort led by Matt Florence. Considered one of the top lacrosse prospects in the nation who has signed with defending national champion Virginia, Florence recorded three goals and two assists.

“Coming off the win against Chaparral, that was a big win for us,” Bryant Jacobs said. “Kent Denver came out strong, but our big problem was that we were a man down almost the entire first quarter. I’m pretty proud of how we played in the second half with what a high-caliber team they are.”

Pat Rooney can be reached at rooneyp@dailycamera.com

Kent Denver 17, Boulder 5

At Boulder H.S.

Kent Denver (1-0) 12 3 0 2 — 17

Boulder (1-1) 0 2 2 1 — 5

Goals — Kent Denver: Florence 3, Lippet 3, Rassenfoss 2, White 2, Franklin 2, Gantz, Tills, Soderberg, Eansor, Couzens; Boulder: Brandon Jacobs 2, Bryant Jacobs, Doenlen, Carlin.

Assists — Kent Denver: Florence 2, Rassenfoss, Ellis, Ammons; Boulder: Bryant Jacobs 2.

Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Kent Denver: Stears (24-2-3), Patel (18-2-0), Lehr (6-1-1); Boulder: Rovnak (48-17-7).