LOUISVILLE — With 40 teams and just 16 playoff spots, the Class 5A boys lacrosse bracket is one of Colorado’s toughest team postseason tournaments to qualify for.
Monarch is simply looking to state its case this week, but the Coyotes let their actions do the talking Tuesday against one of their biggest rivals.
From end line to end line, Monarch was dominant in a 17-3 thrashing of Fairview on the Monarch turf. Physical, speedy and hungry to get back at FHS for last year’s loss, the Coyotes jumped on the Knights early and often to improve to 11-3 overall with just one game to go before the playoff committee breaks it all down.
“We just had it in the back of our minds that we didn’t want the same turnout as last year, and we just kept on going,” said Chad Kreuzer, the Coyotes’ real unstoppable force who notched seven goals and three assists on Tuesday. “We never let off the gas, and that’s what you want.”
Kreuzer and his teammates understand that only the four league winners secure a spot in the playoffs, and the Coyotes do not have a chance to remove that Front Range League title from front-running Columbine.
But in Fairview and Dakota Ridge — the latter whom the Coyotes play next — Monarch (6-2 FRL) had teams ending the docket that they personally want to get back at. By jumping out to a 6-0 lead after one quarter and extending that to 12-2 by halftime against FHS, business was all but taken care of early.
Max Wiesner, who scored four times, got the Coyotes going just 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the game in a man-down situation, and he and Kreuzer combined for the first six goals. The Coyotes seemed especially inclined to take on defenders and shed off body checks throughout the contest, and rarely were they denied.
“It’s one of those things where we feel like we can fight through guys if we have to and if they’re just going to sit there and hack at our sticks,” said Kreuzer, who now has 86 points this season. “We know our strengths, and it’s like why take the 12-yard shot when you can get a five-yard shot.”
“Ultimately, you want to share the ball and cut, but you’ve got to be able to dodge,” added Monarch coach David Auday. “We have guys that will run by you, and that gives us a lot of options.”
Auday was fired up about his defense just as much, and rightfully so. The Knights, considerably smaller up front and more reliant on getting guys out of position, saw few opportunities to deceive MHS goalie Connor Johnson.
Johnson, a senior goalie, showed his quick hands often, but the Knights also regularly shot into his body throughout the game. Johnson finished with 14 saves in the three quarters he played.
“It felt like we got that spark again,” Johnson said. “We played some pretty bad games in the early part of the season, but we really have picked it up.”
Like his coach, Johnson knew the six-member units the Coyotes rolled out to defend Fairview (5-10, 3-6) played a key role in achieving a goal — that being limited the Knights to four goals or less for the game.
“All year, our offense has been getting a lot of headlines and that’s the nature of sports,” Auday said. “But our long poles — Derek Coleman, Sammer Ziady, Keaton Whitehead — those guys have started since they’ve been here, and of course (Johnson) in the cage.
“When you put that together with Danny Kowalski as a (long stick midfielder), we’re a tough team to beat. We get in a six-on-six game, we know we can stop them, and we did.”
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Monarch 17, Fairview 3
At Monarch HS
Fairview 1 1 0 1 — 3
Monarch 6 6 3 2 — 17
Goals — Fairview: Andrew Yi, Shad Bohnen, Tony D’Esposito; Monarch: Chad Kreuzer 7, Max Wiesner 4, Brock Tausan 2, Andrew Zwiers 2, Clayton Muehl, Derek Coleman.
Assists — Fairview: Daniel Rahn, Connor May; Monarch: Kreuzer 3, Zwiers 2, Sammer Ziady, Tausan, Wiesner, Jared Hodell.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fairview: Cooper Ross (24-12-6), David Molina (24-5-3); Monarch: Connor Johnson (36-2-14), Andrew Wynans (12-1-3).