LAFAYETTE — Most of Dawson boys lacrosse’s junior-heavy roster hadn’t had a normal season in their high school careers before 2022. That disjointedness, from a canceled spring season in 2020 to an accelerated season in 2021, disrupted the mojo that head coach Peter Devlin was working to achieve.
This year, in their first real season together, everything has been starting to click for this young team. On Tuesday on their home field, the ninth-seeded Mustangs ended No. 24 Resurrection Christian’s run in a 19-9 finish in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Junior midfielder Holden Walker netted seven goals and junior midfielder/attacker Leo Bellanca added four more. Eight boys in all got on the board.
The victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the Mustangs, who finished their regular season with three straight setbacks to Boulder, Lutheran and Jefferson Academy.
“We just had a lot of work in the offseason together and we had a couple of tough games the past few days, but I think today, we really just got together as a team, got hyped for the playoffs,” Walker said. “This is our time to just run it up and just not stop. (The losses) were kind of a shock to us, but I think we just needed to humble ourselves and get our heads straight forward, come out in this game and just blow the doors off.”
The Mustangs took their sweet time setting up the TNT along the edges of that door. After going down 2-0 to the Cougars early on, they netted three straight goals to take back the lead. They didn’t lose it after that.
Dawson led 9-4 at the half, then spent the remainder of the contest blowing first-year RCS out of the water. That playoff win, the program’s first since 2018, was a long time coming, especially for the junior class.
“I think running the same systems for a longer period of time allows kids to be more comfortable with what we’re trying to run and also just being more comfortable being with each other,” Devlin said. “Having players from a couple of different schools, you need this time together to gel.”
The Mustangs will get another chance to test out that cohesiveness when they head to Gypsum on Friday to take on No. 8 Eagle Valley. If Tuesday’s game proved anything, it’s that they have plenty of firepower to carry them forward if they so choose.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Devlin said. “We just have to put a game together and limit our mistakes.”
Dawson girls knock out Grand Junction
Tuesday was a banner day for Dawson athletics, as the girls lacrosse team secured the first playoff win of its short existence just a few hundred feet from the boys. They came into the playoffs as the No. 12 seed and wasted no time decimating No. 21 Grand Junction, 18-6.
Junior Annabelle Biggar, who has been instrumental to the Mustangs’ success all year long with 117 total goals and five against the Tigers, chalked that success up to the team’s newfound commitment to the game. Last year, the program’s first in existence, she was the only club player. This year, more of her high school teammates joined the club scene.
The difference it made has been incredible.
“Just seeing them from the start of the season to now is really just special,” head coach Rachel Class said. “I think they improved with stickwork and a lot of individual skills. We know the basics. We just got to be the first ones to everything with the ground balls, catching, throwing, and honestly just showing heart, showing that we want it more than the other team.”
They certainly wanted it more against Grand Junction, as five ladies got on the board. Senior Sophie Gebhardt led them all with seven scores. Now, the Mustangs will have to turn their attention toward their next matchup at No. 5 Green Mountain on Thursday.
It’ll only get harder from here on out, but the Mustangs are thrilled to have made school history in such a short time.
“It is so exciting,” Biggar said. “We were hoping that this would happen and we were working really hard for it. Now that it’s here, it just feels unreal. I’ve seen an insane amount of growth. We’ve come so far. We’ve put in so much work and we really deserve to be here. I’m really proud of us.”