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Boys lacrosse: Monarch comes up just short of upset of Cherry Creek in 5A state quarters

Coyotes erase two three-goal deficits in the first half, fall by one against top seed

GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Monarch’s Graysen Jolly ...
Daily Camera file photo
GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Monarch’s Graysen Jolly absorbs a check from a Cherry Creek defender during their Class 5A state quarterfinal on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Another goal by Monarch senior Braeden Wimer had again pulled his team level with state lacrosse power Cherry Creek Thursday evening.

The fingerprints of a one-sided game had seemed to take shape on two different occasions in the opening half, only to be cleaned by another sudden burst by the underdog Coyotes.

The formula for taking down a giant was stand pat: It would take resiliency, and plenty of persistence. So, when it came up just short of resulting in the biggest upset in recent memory in the state’s lacrosse scene, the gut-wrench was turned a little tighter.

Thomas Power’s tiebreaking goal with 8 minutes, 8 seconds remaining proved the difference as the top-ranked Bruins skirted by ninth-seeded Monarch, 12-11, in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at a fingernails-chomped-down Stutler Bowl.

Wimer led the Coyotes with four goals, and nearly knotted the game back up in the final minutes with his savvy, behind-the-back chance just missing. To the backdrop of nervous aches and groans from the home fans, the Coyotes — who’d already pulled off an upset win in the first round over Denver East — came that close to one all the grander.

Brent W. New/
GREENWOOD VILLAGE — Monarch’s Jacob Hilliard sprints downfield against Cherry Creek on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Photo by Brent W. New/

“We got moxie with a capital ‘M’,” Monarch coach David Auday said afterward. “We just played a really strong 48 minutes. It’s one of those games where a couple bounces go a different way, it’s a different outcome.

“We knew going in they were a No. 1 seed, but we knew we could beat them. And it was there for the taking.”

After erasing a pair of three-goal deficits in the opening half, Monarch (9-3) took a 10-8 lead with goals from Derek Duplechin and Kevin McMahon early in the third quarter. Another three-goal run by Cherry Creek proceeded before Wimer tied it with a seeing-eye fastball that split defenders and whooshed by keeper Will Stewart.

In the fourth, the goals slowed down. Power’s goal, in fact, stood alone. Monarch pressed, had a few nice looks but saw its season expire with a turnover in the final minute.

“It was a great Elite Eight game, except for the outcome,” Auday said. “I really felt if there was another 40 seconds on there we would’ve come back and scored.”

Monarch had already answered each of its previous deficits.

Momentum tilting heavy against them, the Coyotes answered a Bruins run with one of their own in the first quarter, scoring three straight in the final 3:16 of the frame to take their first lead.

McMahon had successive goals on the spurt, the second set up by an expert pass from Jacob Hilliard in front of the net. Then after a stick save from Pierce Zickerman plunged a nice scoring chance from the Bruins with less than 45 seconds left in the quarter — a quick counterattack was finished off by Griffyn Weber to make it 4-3 with 6 seconds remaining.

Cherry Creek, looking again to seize control, scored the next four in the second. But on cue, the Coyotes stormed back, finishing the half on a 4-1 run to knot the game at 8-all.

“We know we’re disrespected in the state of Colorado — people don’t consider Monarch a powerhouse school in lacrosse,” Wimer said. “Playing hard and losing to the No. 1 team in the state by one goal really should put us on the map.”

It’ll be the 20th semifinals trip in 22 seasons for Cherry Creek, which has gone on to win three titles over the last five seasons, and has a state-most seven in total.

The Coyotes’ loss came in their first quarterfinal appearance since 2016.