DENVER -- It was back on April 29 that the Cherry Creek Bruins beat the Regis Jesuit Raiders, just days before the start of the Class 5A playoffs. The rematch would prove to have much higher stakes and a very different result.
The Raiders were dominant from late in the first quarter on and beat the Bruins 14-7 to claim the 5A boys lacrosse championship.
Raiders junior attacker Matt Soran led all scorers with five goals and added an assist in a match that saw the winning team dominant nearly from start to finish.
"We started getting the faceoffs and offensively our first couple possessions we were getting a lot of shots but we weren't finding the net," coach Jim Soran said. "I had confidence we were going to start hitting the net as the game went on."
To start the game it was the Bruins moved the ball well in the opening minutes, finding the net 1:50 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. The Raiders tied the game up less than three minutes later, giving all the indications that a see-saw battle was in order. That was when Regis Jesuit came in like a wrecking ball. They went on a 7-2 run to take an 8-3 lead and seize control of the game.
The Bruins tried to regain momentum before halftime and junior Jack Savage appeared to help them do so by scoring with 31 seconds left before the break. But the Raiders would gain control of the ball on the ensuing face-off and Chet Dunstan fired a shot into the net as time expired to give Regis Jesuit momentum and a 9-4 lead at the half.
“We knew it was going to be a (tough) game so we didn't want to let down the pace,” Dunstan said. "We wanted to get back off right in the second quarter and keep going."
Dunstan struck again early in the second half in the first of three-straight goals for the Raiders to open the third quarter. The other two came at the hands of Soran. The Bruins would get one back with five minutes remaining in the third, but Regis Jesuit entered the fourth and final quarter with a 12-5 lead.
With the game firmly in hand, the Raiders focused on ball control and running out the clock. With pressure mounting, Cherry Creek went on the attack scoring with 9:15 left in the game with the help of a Raiders penalty. But it would be for not as Regis Jesuit continued to let time tick away, closing in a title with each passing second.
“The couple we got at the end of the first half made a big difference,” Coach Soran said. "When you get the next one and you're down you feel like you have hope and if the other team gets it, it kind of deflates you."
For the players, there could be no better ending this season than to beat Cherry Creek in the state title game. They considered the loss to the Bruins in the regular season a massive blow and felt that in order to truly be vindicated, they needed to top Creek in the playoffs.
"It felt good; they killed us when they got the regular season game," Matt Soran said. "We came out with a chip on our shoulder and we wanted to come out firing on them and that's what we did."
The lacrosse title marked the second state championship of the day for the Raiders as the boys swim team won the 5A class earlier Saturday afternoon.