Be it a shiny-new program, or one that simply relocated, a shift in the high school lacrosse scene has jumbled what we only thought we knew about the sport’s hierarchy.
A midseason peek at the area’s top teams shows a mix of old and fresh powers:
In Class 4A, the boys team at Erie has shaken up the norm with a 6-1 start and a No. 2 ranking in the RPI in its inaugural year. Meanwhile, back-to-back-to-back state finalist Dawson School is suddenly inexperienced after losing a number of its top players to the Tigers and the other new Adams 12 School District program at Mountain Range.
In 5A, Monarch (8-1) and Fairview (4-3) both look like Front Range League teams who could make some noise in the postseason.
And over in the girls division, the Boulder Valley School District team at Fairview has flourished to a perfect 6-0 start in its first season since switching its home school from Centaurus to the Knights.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, take note of these five things from lacrosse teams around the area:
A Monarch of consistency. Despite losing some of its best players from last spring, the Coyotes are currently fourth in 5A RPI.
Monarch coach David Auday said his program was shocked to find out that it would be without standout senior attackers Griphen Jolly and Travis Hitt in 2019. The attackers were expected to return as two of team’s three top point-getters from 2018, but instead had to move to the new program at Mountain Range per state rules.
In spite of it, Auday said his team has prevailed thanks to “unbelievable” senior leadership and a strong-willed roster of players eager to step up. He also praised the work of longtime coordinators Dax Roane (offensive coordinator) and Wayne Chancellor (defensive coordinator), who he said have been vital to the program’s long-term stability and success.
“We have a great, great staff — and when I say a great staff, I’m not talking about me,” Auday said. “The kids come into this program and the expectations are always the same. We’ve developed a culture of discipline and winning.”
Ben Riecken currently leads the team with 19 goals and 11 assists, Braeden Wimer has 11 goals and 18 assists, and seniors Dylan Torres and Drew Tausan have 18 and 16 goals apiece. The Coyotes have won eight straight since their opening-season loss to Cherry Creek.
The surprising (okay, maybe not that surprising) start from Erie. A first-year program immediately becoming a state title contender doesn’t happen all that often … which makes the Tigers’ bullying start so spectacular.
Of course, some probably could have seen this coming. Erie coach Nick Mandia said his team heard the outside chatter about how good it could be in 2019 with a number of strong players that already proved their talents elsewhere. He said outside talks about winning a state title arrived early into offseason training.
But for now, he’s trying to keep the lens narrow.
“Our focus has been on each day,” Mandia said. “We’ll stop a practice and I’ll ask them if they got better in the last five minutes. And they’re very honest, they will say no, and they’ll work to right that ship, figure that out, and continue winning every moment.”
The Tigers have outscored state opponents 67-14 in six games. Their only loss of the year came to Brighton of Salt Lake City.
In 4A RPI, they currently only trail defending champ Cheyenne Mountain, which outlasted Dawson 8-6 in the finals last year. Many of those former Mustangs players are now at Erie.
Fairview happy with where it’s at. The No. 11 Knights got through their tough opening slate with a record of 4-3, which includes losses to Rock Canyon, Highlands Ranch and Oregon powerhouse West Linn. They’ll face 1-8 Boulder at Recht Field on Friday (5 p.m.).
“We probably played the toughest schedule in the area and we got two of the three most difficult games on the schedule out of the way,” Fairview coach Matt Kelley said. “I think that the team has fully bought into the direction they’re heading. And we got through our injury-sickness spell, which usually happens every year. So, I’m feeling pretty good where we are.”
How will Holy Family respond to defeat? The fantasy stories of never experiencing defeat is usually reserved for late-night fraternity parties. But Holy Family lacrosse actually tasted the dream of perfection for a good long while.
The Tigers didn’t lose a game in two seasons while at the JV level. And then they started their first varsity campaign 3-0.
They had to lose someday. And coming into Thursday’s game against Thompson Valley, they’d lost twice in the past four games.
The fresh-faced varsity unit is currently ranked ninth in 4A RPI.
Isabela Bloomquist has 23 goals in six games. The Fairview sophomore surpassed her 21-goal freshman season and still has eight regular-season games remaining.
“We’re super happy with where she’s at right now, especially only being a sophomore,” Fairview coach Kelsey Sheridan said. “That’s helping our team a lot.”
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew