LAKEWOOD — Dakota Ridge’s girls lacrosse program is looking to get a piece of the Jeffco League championship pie.
The Eagles have never won a conference championship in girls lacrosse. On a rainy Thursday night at Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood, Dakota Ridge got its big opportunity to edge closer to that elusive league title.
Standing in the way… rival Columbine.
“I’ve definitely been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Dakota Ridge senior Hannah Krats said. “We like playing good competition and it brings out the best in our team.”
The Rebels, No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com girls lacrosse rankings, had no intention of falling behind No. 7 Dakota Ridge in the Jeffco standings. Columbine (8-2, 4-0 in Jeffco) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, never allowing Dakota Ridge (11-1, 4-1) to grab the lead in the critical conference game. Columbine went on to win 16-11.
“I definitely think they were a little shook by how fast we got up,” said Columbine sophomore Whitney Block who poured in a career-high six goals to lead the way offensively for the Rebels. “It was nice to go up early.”
Block went on a tear in the in final 10 minutes of the first half. The sophomore attacker scored four times to help Columbine grab a 11-7 lead at halftime. The second half got a little more defensive on both sides and a little more physical with a number of collisions.
Columbine junior Angela Naughton, one of the Rebels’ top scorers, had to leave the game with 10 minutes to play in the second half with a knee injury. Columbine coach Sonorah Hunter said there didn’t appear to be any ligament damage and added that with some rest that Naughton would be back on the field soon.
“We have such a talent group where anyone can make a statement. Anyone can step up and make a play,” Hunter said. “That is what is really fun about this group this year.”
Besides Block’s six goals, six other Rebels found the back of the net. Naughton, Aliyah Weant and Maura Singer each had a pair of goals for Columbine. Maeve Hungerford and Lyndsie Pratt each had a goal in the Rebels’ fifth straight victory.
“I really want to congratulation Dakota Ridge on it season. We were really stoked to play them,” Hunter said. “It’s been awesome to have two Jeffco teams really kicking butt and both being in the top-10 (rankings). I’m excited for them and us to move our seasons forward.”
There is still plenty of league work to be done for Columbine and Dakota Ridge. Both still have to face Chatfield (6-5, 4-0). The Chargers are still undefeated in conference play and are eyeing their first girls lacrosse league title since back-to-back Jeffco championships in 2013 and 2014.
Dakota Ridge faces south Jeffco rival Chatfield on Tuesday, April 25, at Trailblazer Stadium. Columbine gets its shot against the Chargers on May 4 at Trailblazer.
“It was great to come out with a good league win,” Block said. “Last year we had that overtime loss to Ralston Valley. It was nice to get this win.”
Ralston Valley prevented Columbine from claiming back-to-back conference crowns with that overtime win last year over the Rebels.
“Our league title is really big as far as bring it back to our school,” Hunter said. “Our end goal is to end up in the state championship. That’s our main goal to have some big wins later on this season.”
Dakota Ridge hadn’t played some of the top-10 teams Columbine faced in non-league games against Cherry Creek, Denver East and Kent Denver. However, the Eagles welcome the upcoming challenges as the playoffs loom.
“I think the team played really well. I don’t think we should have our heads down or anything,” Krats said. “We played an awesome game.”
The Krats sisters — Hannah and freshman Tia — combined for seven goals in the Eagles’ first loss of the season. Senior Hannah Johnson and junior Kailee Lammers had two goals each for Dakota Ridge.
Columbine junior goalie Annie Van Norstrand picked up the victory in net for the Rebels.
“We were just playing for those people who lost their lives tragically on this day,” Block said referring to playing on the 18th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. “We were excited to come out with all our heart, our strength and leave it all on the field.”