ERIE — Charlie O’Brien. Davis Mundy. Liam Connors.
The trio of Erie sophomores scored a combined five goals on Friday to drive a commanding 8-3 home win over No. 18 seed Golden in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
No. 2 seed Erie (13-3), which enjoyed a first-round bye, will now advance to face No. 7 Lutheran on Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
For whatever reason, Erie and Golden often find each other when the state playoffs roll around. Friday’s matchup marked the third consecutive season they’ve met when it matters most — Erie having won last season’s state quarterfinals meeting to avenge a 2019 playoff loss to the same Demons.
“Indirectly, there’s a rivalry building because of the matchup that has occurred the past three postseasons,” said Erie head coach Nick Mandia. “Losing in 2019 when we were higher-seeded, and we felt like we were really talented, I think it leaves a chip on our shoulder. Whenever we see Golden on the schedule, we want to make sure that we beat them. But it’s the postseason; it’s not hard to get excited for any matchup at this point.”
To further set the stage, the Tigers ended their regular season with a win over defending state champion Cheyenne Mountain, which knocked Erie out of the 2021 playoffs.
Things have been clicking for the Tigers, although it took until there were just 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter to score on Golden. As he has done all season, O’Brien got Erie going with his team-leading 48th goal of the year. Mundy then added another goal early in the second quarter to build a 2-0 lead.
Golden, however, scored four minutes later to halt some of Erie’s early momentum. But O’Brien answered with 38 seconds remaining in the half and just 10 seconds later, senior Jackson Mundy gave his Tigers a more comfortable 4-1 advantage entering halftime.
Mandia said the late second quarter scoring barrage was huge.
“It was really important for us because we were playing slow; we were playing sloppy,” Mandia said. “We were also generating a lot of shots and having trouble actually getting them on frame or scoring goals. That can become frustrating, especially when you are generating a ton of offense, but the scoreboard doesn’t show it.”
Connors scored a pair of goals in the second half and juniors Karson Evans and Ryan Burns also scored once to put the game out of reach for Golden.
Erie’s offensive success, which was fueled by a starting attack line comprised entirely of sophomores, came as no surprise to Connors.
“The sophomore class is special because me and Chuck (O’Brien) have been playing together since maybe we were 6- or 7-years old, that just helps our chemistry,” Connors said. “I always know where he’s going to be, he always knows where I’m going to be. And then Dundy (Davis Mundy), who’s gotten really good over the past year, is really good because he’s a lefty.”