Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Chad Kreuzer was one of the stars of Monarch’s stirring late rally against Mullen in the first round of the 5A state tournament.

LOUISVILLE — Chad Kreuzer put the Monarch boys lacrosse team on his back, and Max Wiesner put his body on the line in the twilight of Wednesday night.

Together, along with a cast of others who played smaller but vital roles in the Coyotes’ Class 5A state tournament playoff opener, Monarch made one of most epic comebacks their head coach had ever seen.

And David Auday has been around the game a long time.

The Coyotes withstood early turnovers and then some turmoil when lightning delayed their home game against Mullen for 50 minutes, rallying from a six-goal deficit with 5 minutes, 35 seconds left in regulation to beat the Mustangs 15-14 and advance to Saturday’s second round.

While every piece to the puzzle just seemed to sort of come together in the game’s final moments for Monarch, Kreuzer and Wiesner were unstoppable as they provided the final seven goals for their squad.

Wiesner came through with the final two scores and delivered what he called the best moment of his lacrosse life to give MoHi the win. With just about 2 minutes left in overtime, the senior dealt a crushing hit to Mullen’s Caleb Rueth in the Monarch offensive area, gathered the loose ball without hesitation and drove in for the winning goal.

“For some of us, it could have been our last game, so it was just a now-or-never thing and we all knew we had to play for the guy next to us,” Wiesner said after the game, one in which he scored five times overall. “Every single person on our team made a play out on the field. It was unbelievable.”

“Surreal,” Auday added. “Down 14-8 with six minutes to go. No one but this team could have done it. They’ve believed in themselves all season and it’s something special.”

The lightning delay with 2:33 left in regulation was by all indications a blessing in disguise for Monarch. Already carrying momentum having scored four straight times to cut Mullen’s lead from 14-8 to 14-12, the Coyotes did not let the momentum disintegrate. Rather, they used the time while they were in the team room just off the field to gather their own bearings and prepare for whatever Mullen threw at them.

When the teams got back on the field, Kreuzer, who had eight goals and three assists, won the initial face-off and blitzed downfield to pot a goal and make it 14-13 with 2:14 left.

The Coyotes amped up their pressure behind their own goal with Mullen forced to play in the back area with less than 1 minute left, and with goalie Connor Johnson adding chaos the Mustangs turned the ball over allowing Kreuzer and Wiesner to connect again with 31.4 seconds left to tie the game.

“Being inside for the long delay knowing there was just 2 minutes left in the game, it was definitely (agonizing),” Wiesner said. “We knew we had the momentum to win, and we did it. If you play hard, there’s no team we can’t take.”

“We went into that room and we game-planned as a staff every possible situation and the kids just executed,” Auday said. “We had to improvise a bit, and that’s why I say it’s all on the kids. It brought a tear to my eye.”

With the win, the Coyotes improved to 13-3 and will play Regis Jesuit on Saturday on the road. For Kreuzer, being able to advance simply came down to never wavering in confidence that “the family” could get the job done.

“That’s just us coming together like we have all season,” said Kreuzer, who surpassed 100 points for the season. “We didn’t want to go out the way we were going, we wanted to put up a fight. We were out on the field when it was snowing in the offseason, when you couldn’t even see the lines on the field, we were out there. Last-second games comes down to what you do in the offseason.”

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Monarch 15, Mullen 14 (OT)

At Monarch HS

Mullen 6 3 2 3 0 — 14
Monarch
5 2 1 6 1 — 15

GoalsMullen: Pryor 4, B. Alfred 3, Rueth 2, Standley 2, Sperry 1, DiSaverio 1, Burgett 1; Monarch: Chad Kreuzer 8, Max Wiesner 5, Danny Kowalski 1, Landon Waddle 1.

AssistsMullen: Burgett 3, Boyd 2, B. Alfred 1, Nachazel 1; Monarch: Kreuzer 3, Andrew Zwiers 1, Brock Tausan 1.

Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) Mullen: Boyd (50-15-9); Monarch: Connor Johnson (50-14-9).