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Girls lacrosse: Fairview loses heartbreaker in 5A semis

Valor Christian stages furious rally in late stages of fourth, score golden goal in OT to advance


ENGLEWOOD — Fairview girls lacrosse just barely missed out on a trip to the Class 5A state title game.

On Tuesday night at Englewood High School, the third-seeded Knights fell in a 15-14 overtime heartbreaker to No. 2 Valor Christian in their semifinal matchup, despite a valiant effort from Allie Hartman. She finished the night with five goals.

Finnley Dancy and Tessa McCollester each added a hat trick to those totals.

The Knights nearly had a lock on victory when, with 5 minutes, 17 seconds left in regulation, Dancy put them up 14-9. That’s when Valor’s offense went into overdrive to score four straight goals.

The Knights thought they had won the game with a 14-13 final when the regulation buzzer sounded on a Valor charge toward the goal, but the official called a penalty to allow the Eagles one last shot. They didn’t waste it.

Valor Christian needed just 37 seconds in overtime to end the Knights’ season in the most agonizing fashion.

“I’m so, so proud,” Hartman said. “I think our team is so strong this year. We had lots of freshmen that stepped up and they shined all throughout the season. Our seniors did such a great job leading and everyone in between. We had such strong players on attack and defense. We had a great draw specialist. We had hustlers on the circle. We really had all the pieces.”

Fairview girls lacrosse head coach Kelsey Sheridan knew the Knights’ job wouldn’t be easy, but they held firm against a Valor team that had only lost one game to a Colorado opponent all season long. That opponent was top seed Colorado Academy, which punched its ticket to the state title game just a few hours earlier with a 9-7 win over No. 4 Cherry Creek.

The Knights’ road to the semis started long before they first picked up their sticks in 2022, and the work they’ve put in since the Boulder Valley School District team moved from Centaurus to Fairview in 2019 had all led to this moment.

It has certainly helped having the first full season since that inaugural 2019 year after COVID canceled the 2020 season altogether and led to a shortened Season D slate last year.

“You can see (the chemistry) on the attacking end,” Sheridan said. “A lot of our sets are two-man plays, working together. A lot of our goals are assisted goals as opposed to one-(vs.)-one drives. You can see the chemistry on the attacking end and on the defensive end. The Weltys (senior Ava and junior Mia) are sisters and these girls have been playing defense together. Ava’s been playing defense in front of Thayer (Hubbard) for years. They’re both seniors, so our defensive chemistry is also really strong because they communicate really well and slide really well together on a string.”

That cohesiveness was apparent from the start of Tuesday’s contest, as the Knights gave no quarter to the Valor defense or offense from the first whistle. The two teams played point-for-point as neither managed to take more than a one-goal lead throughout the first 25 minutes.

The Fairview defense, led by a gritty performance from sophomore defender Sierra Ryan, tested the Eagles’ attackers every time they tried to crash the net. Valor’s defense returned the favor every time the Knights approached their crease.

Coming out of the midway break, the Knights decided they weren’t exactly comfortable with such close play. They took complete control with not one, not two, but five straight goals from Hartman, Tessa McCollester, Mia Reinke and two more from Hartman to take a 9-5 lead in the first six minutes of the second half.

All season long, Fairview has enjoyed a strong attack, courtesy of seven ladies who have netted 20 or more goals through 17 games. The Eagles felt the brunt of that offense in the span of just a few minutes.

“I think it’s a combination of having really strong players,” Sheridan said. “We definitely have a lot of talent and depth. We’ve never been as deep. Our bench girls, they bring a different element than in years past. They’re very into it, they push our girls on scout attack, scout defense. It just elevates us from the top down.”

In the end, Valor’s vicious defense got the better of them, but the ladies will hold their heads high knowing they very nearly secured their spot in the finals.