A last-second, possible game-tying shot missed wide as the fourth-seeded Erie boys lacrosse team lost to top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain, 9-8, in the Class 4A state semifinals on Saturday at Englewood’s Randy Penn Stadium.
Cheyenne Mountain, a fellow 4A Northern League foe, both began and ended Erie’s season with a loss — as the Tigers lost to CMHS in double-overtime on May 6.
Erie, which beat Golden in the quarterfinals, fell behind 6-1 early in the second half but fought back to bring the score within one late in the fourth quarter. Cheyenne Mountain’s defense couldn’t bend much more without breaking and the Indians will now face No. 2 Evergreen in the championship Tuesday.
For Erie head coach Nick Mandia, although the loss stung, there were plenty of positives following the program’s 9-3 second season. He said that many of his younger players earned valuable experience and continued to grow the Tigers’ culture.
“A lot of good memories come from this season,” Mandia said. “The future’s bright for Erie.”
Early on, the Cheyenne Mountain offense exercised both patience and selflessness to build a 5-1 lead at the half. Erie junior Corby Tecu netted the first goal of the contest before Cheyenne Mountain rattled off five in a row.
Tecu finished with three goals to back up a four-goal performance in the quarterfinals. Mandia commended Tecu, a student at Mead High, for his effort on and off the field that, not surprisingly, yielded playoff success.
“Corby’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Mandia said. “I have not met many teenagers that are more consistent and tough than he is.”
Erie relinquished the first goal of the second half but rebounded to outscore Cheyenne Mountain 2-1 in the third quarter. Sophomore Ryan Burns and junior Jeff Stone Jr. each had a goal.
Tecu found the back of the net twice in the fourth quarter and helped start a 3-0 run to bring Erie within one goal late in the contest. The Tigers failed to score with just 16 seconds to work with on their final offensive possession.
“We were down five goals going into the start of the second half and for us to come back, bring that within a one goal game and be there to the end, I think it shows a lot about the character of this team,” Tecu said.
Other Tigers to score during the near comeback included freshman Charlie O’Brien, senior Jack Booth and freshman Liam Connors. Tecu said that Erie’s offense is built to share the ball frequently and it worked on Saturday.
The loss, however, put an end to a season that began with a state title in mind.
“We had really high hopes for this year and I think that we’re a really good team,” Mandia said. “It’s hard to swallow.”