There were certainly a number of reasons why the Erie boys lacrosse team had the amount of expectations placed on them to start the 2019 spring season that they did.
Having a unit of senior defensemen anchor the Tigers’ first year wasn’t the least of those reasons, either. In fact, most around the area figured the back end of the EHS makeup to be the premier line in Class 4A boys lacrosse.
Even in being upset in the second round of the playoffs by eventual champion Golden, the Tigers proved all season long that their defense — years in the making — was ready for every challenge. Heading that stingy trio was Silver Creek student Aidan Abram, whose All-American season also led him to being named the 2019 BoCoPreps.com boys lacrosse player of the year.
“I think for a first-year program, it was an awesome year for us,” said Abram, who will attend and play for DU in the near future. “We had an awesome coach, and I think we lived up to expectations even though we didn’t end up coming away with what we all wanted.
“It was cool to get a lot of support from all the different schools, and Erie gave us just a ton of support all year. It was awesome.”
Like most of the Erie squad, Abram didn’t just emerge from out of the woodwork and get the Tigers to a 13-3 record in some magical ‘beginner’s luck’ fashion. The new St. Vrain Valley School District team blended together several new players with quite a few experienced members of the Dawson School team that went to three consecutive 4A championship games.
Abram was one of those Mustangs to find a new home, not necessarily by choice but rather CHSAA bylaws, and Dawson teammate Sage Gardner accompanied him. From Boulder, the Tigers also added Ben Warn to the backline in front of former Panther Tim Beach in goal.
What resulted was an immediate run to the top of the Northern League standings with first-year head coach Nick Mandia steering the ship, and though Erie’s balanced offense played a significant part in going 13-3, it was the team’s allowance of just 3.6 goals per game that really fueled the fire to a 4A No. 2 ranking for most of the season, a No. 2 seed in the playoffs and thoughts of bringing home a trophy to Erie in year one.
While it wasn’t exactly a story-book ending, Abram was proud of the things that the Tigers accomplished on the whole. As for himself, Abram said being leaned on heavily for leadership allowed him to grow in the game.
“Being put in the situation (with a first-year team) was new to me … and coach Mandia placed a lot of expectations on the captains so it helped me see from a new perspective what it takes from a leadership standpoint,” Abram said.
Abram added that cohesiveness perhaps even more than scheme helped himself, Gardner and Warn to have the tremendous knack for shutting teams down. Only twice did Erie allow more than six goals in a game, and only once did that result in a loss. Erie’s two in-state losses were each by one goal (3-2 to 5A Rocky Mountain and 5-4 to Golden in the postseason).
After the season, the honors came quickly for the future Pioneer — first team all-league, first team all-state, and the biggest honor anyone in the sport can get: All-America status as voted on by state’s coaches.
“Half of this team has been playing together for such a long time, and it really just seemed to only take a couple of days to start to click, and I think playing together for that long allowed us to do what we did,” Abram said. “Coach really emphasized our defensive play, and that’s including the midfielders. We spent a lot of time working on the super-small things that didn’t seem important at the time but turned out to be huge.”
Adam Dunivan: email@example.com or on Twitter @AdamDunivan24.