DENVER — Kent Denver had things in hand. The Devils were rolling, scoring and leading the Centaurus Warriors in the girls lacrosse state quarterfinals.
Then it all came apart for them.
The Warriors took advantage of a tightly called game that saw Kent Denver take five yellow cards and three red ones, and rallied to beat the Devils 15-12 on Wednesday to advance to Saturday’s state semifinals.
It’s the third straight year the Warriors are in the final four, and they got there thanks to a penalty-filled game that had even the players scratching their heads.
“Weirdest, most exciting, most stressful, craziest games I’ve ever played in my life,” said Sarah Brown, who had four goals in the wild victory. “Playoffs are always crazy. Everyone’s more intense, it gets very physical.”
Apparently, Kent Denver was a little too physical.
The Devils were leading 11-6 and seemingly in control, but their aggressive play caught up to them. In a span of about a minute three players were called for yellow cards and put Kent Denver down three players.
Soon after, JoAnne Franklin was called for a red card and cost the Devils another player.
Suddenly, Centaurus went from five goals down to leading 12-11 in five minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It just got a little bit out of hand,” coach Genny Horning said. “It was aggressive play. That was the hallmark of what happened, at least on their end, and once it escalates then the officials will escalate the level of card if it doesn’t stop.”
The penalties didn’t end until Catherine Ellis, Kent Denver’s best player and the leading scorer in the state, got a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct with the game tied at 12.
“Cards are there to keep the game clean,” Horning said. “If they don’t change the way they play then officials will take anything and turn them into cards, and once there are enough yellows they’ll turn everything into reds.”
Even down five players, the Devils made a push but goalie Kaylie Weiss had two big saves to keep the game tied.
Centaurus went up for good on Andrea Kim’s goal with 5:32 left, and Audrey Brown and Olivia Holmes sealed it with goals against a severely shorthanded Devils team.
“Our first half was really rough and we got grounded at halftime,” said Sarah Myres, who had three goals. “We got our momentum going and they’re yellow cards and red cards helped us a lot.”
About the only thing that didn’t go right for Centaurus in the second half was when Sarah Brown, off for a yellow card, came back too early and was given an additional two minutes.
“I just heard them say 26 and I thought they meant 5:26 and they meant 4:26,” she said.
It didn’t stop the Warriors from reaching the final four, where they will play No. 1 Regis Jesuit at 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Denver.
“We have a lot of players that were on that field last year,” Horning said. “Having had them experience last year, that’s only going to help us.”
Centaurus 15, Kent Denver 12
At Kent Denver H.S.
Centaurus (14-2) 4 11 — 15
Kent Denver (10-7) 8 4 — 12
Goals — Centaurus: Sarah Brown 4, Myres 3, McGiboney 2, Audrey Brown 2, Kim 2, Burns 1, Holmes 1 2; Kent Denver: A. Duke 3, Ellis 3, Godfrey 2, Schlegel 1, Murray 1, Dikeou 1, H. Duke 1.
Assists — Centaurus: Holmes 4, Bruns 2, A. Brown 2, Myres 1, S. Brown 1; Kent Denver: Ellis 3, Franklin 1, Kikeou, Godfrey.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Centaurus: Kaylie Weiss (50-12-5); Kent Denver: Alexis Truitt (50-15-7).