Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
ERIE — The boys lacrosse program at Erie High School has played the part of unicorn in the sports world, rushing to the kind of success usually reserved for teams seasoned in years of ache. Not that there hasn’t been pain for the Tigers — the whole thing just seems to be on express.
Tuesday evening under a sky of about a hundred shades of blue, the fourth-year program made up of students from several neighboring schools punched its ticket back into the Class 4A semifinals following a 10-1 dismantling of Lutheran. From beginning to end, little had been in doubt.
Charlie O’Brien, Liam Connors and Corby Tecu led the way for the second-seeded Tigers (14-3), each finishing with a hat trick. Their harassing defense, meanwhile, held the seventh-seeded Lions (12-5) without a goal until just 2 minutes, 6 seconds remained in the fourth quarter.
Two wins now from gold, things will likely get tougher from here. Up next is third-ranked Cheyenne Mountain, the southern school that in last year’s semifinal delivered the sort of gut punch feeling of a deep postseason ending so close to the ultimate prize.
“Obviously Cheyenne Mountain is year-in and year-out one of the top contenders in the state. They’re a legacy program and we want to be a legacy program too,” Mead student Tecu said. “We’re trying to create a winning culture. I think that starts with coach (Nick) Mandia, and it’s crazy that you can pull a bunch of players from different schools that are supposed to hate each other and create a team like this. We’re like a family.”
O’Brien, Part I of the super sophomore combo that also includes Connors, became the 15th player in the state to cross the half-century mark in goals this season. His second-quarter finish came from just a few yards away, the epitome of layup, and followed Tecu’s opening score from the first.
Connors’ back-sweeping motion then resulted in a goal minutes later to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead into the break. O’Brien followed Davis Mundy’s goal with two more in the third, giving him 52 on the year. And in the fourth, Connors had two in the span of 29 seconds and Tecu finished his fifth hat trick of the season with 42 seconds remaining.
Lutheran’s lone goal came from Treyben Miller on the man-advantage.
“It stings a little because they earned a shutout I thought,” Mandia said with a grin. “But we’re in a good place. Feels good to move on. We’re excited.”
The Tigers and the Red-Tailed Hawks meet Saturday at the University of Denver for a chance to advance to the finals. Erie won at the defending champion’s home turf in the regular-season finale to claim the 4A Northern League title.