COLORADO SPRINGS -- The tide of the game turned as quickly as a Cheyenne Mountain scoring possession as the Indians topped the Dawson Mustangs 15-6 in the first round of the 4A boys lacrosse playoffs.
With the win, the Indians will face No. 1 overall seed Wheat Ridge on Friday.
The conflicting styles of the two teams were on full display as the Indians were able to score quickly and often with their fast-paced offense. Midway through the first quarter, Cheyenne Mountain built a 3-0 lead and appeared to be on track to run away with the victory.
After falling behind 3-0 early in the game, the Mustangs were able to fight their back into the game by slowing down the pace and controlling the ball.
“With Casey Rothstein as our faceoff guy we can get (the offense) going pretty quickly,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Mike Paige said. "We had to have a discussion at one point about ball control and when we don't have the fast break and then things came together."
The Indians held a 6-4 lead going into halftime, well off the pace they had set halfway through the first quarter when the game was 3-0. The Indians scored quickly off the draw and added another one before Dawson was able to get on the board in the second half.
Mustangs attacker Eli Negrelli found the back of the net with 6:07 remaining in the third period to pull Dawson to within three goals. But eight seconds after the ensuing face-off Cheyenne Mountain once again stuck quickly off the stick of Rothstein. The score may have only been 9-5, but that quick score appeared to be the emotional nail in the coffin for the Mustangs who seemed unable to recover afterwards.
"We just trust our personnel and in that case, they put one on us to put us on our heels and we were able to put one back on them," Paige said. "We wanted to put them on their heels and mentally for them I think that was a back-breaker."
In the end, the Indians outscored the Mustangs 9-2 in the second half, paving the way for the 15-6 final score. It was halfway through the third quarter when the Indians scored that back-breaker which put them in the exact groove they were looking for coming into the game.
"We really got into a flow. We started playing together and moving the ball well," Rothstein said. "I think we really put the goalie on his heels and the defense in general. We dominated in the mid-field, our defense was shutting them down and we just came together in the third quarter."
Rothstein and attackers Mitch Paige and Sam Sheridan combined for 13 of the Indians 15 goals. The trio has paced the Indians through their successful season. All three will need to be on point Friday when they travel to Wheat Ridge.
"It's usually the three of us. We always seem to start and finish well and come out with something greater than we hoped," Paige said. "We've always wanted to play (Wheat Ridge) in the championship and we've never gotten there. The next game will be our championship. If we pull that out our momentum will be so great."
The winner of Friday's game between the Farmers and the Indians will advance to the 4A semifinals, which will be played May 14.