DENVER — It was cold, it rained, and it was the lowest scoring girls lacrosse title game in Colorado history.
Colorado Academy braved the elements to defeat Cherry Creek 8-3 to clinch the state title on Wednesday night, using fast starts to both halves and terrific goaltending from Bridget Sutter to stymie the Bruins.
"Bridget is the best human being ever," said the Mustangs' Emma Richards, who scored two goals in the contest. "You wouldn't know she even plays sports if you just saw her and talked to her but she turns into a beast in (the net)."
As the game began under a drizzle and with a heavy mist in the air, one couldn't help but wonder if the deteriorating conditions would play a role in the final score. Couple that with the nerves of two elite teams attempting to feel each other out, and the early going of the game had a very deliberate feel to it.
Colorado Academy (16-3 overall, 5-0 league) set the tone early though, playing physical against the Bruins (16-3, 7-0) and generally controlling the early possessions.
The strategy would pay off early, too, as Richards put home the first goal of the game for the Mustangs just minutes into the match.
Top-seeded Creek was unfazed by CA's success though, sticking to their game and using their deadly speed to force the Mustangs into fouling and soon, Caroline Perry would put home the Bruins' first goal on a free shot.
From there it was up and down the field in the first half, with both schools using especially active movement away from the ball to ward off the cold. First Creek went ahead on another goal by Perry, then the Mustangs answered with two more of their own to take a 3-2 lead into the half of an incredibly close contest on the field.
However, as the second half began, the field began to take on a decided tilt favoring Colorado Academy.
The Mustangs took it to Creek from the opening faceoff of the second half, jumping out to a 5-2 lead on the second goals of the game by Richards and Lindsey Jackson, respectively before Eliza Radochonski could get one back for the Bruins on a free shot.
From there, though, it was all Mustangs, as Colorado Academy would add three more insurance goals within the final ten minutes.
"I told the team at half that this team is not going to quit and neither are we," said Colorado Academy coach Steph Sanders. "It's not over until it's over and my girls knew it wouldn't be over until it's over."
Even as the Bruins started to grow desperate at the end, Colorado Academy kept the pressure on, drawing the fouls that Cherry Creek was able to get called on the Mustangs early on and turning it into the final goal with just a few seconds to go.
But despite the tough loss for Cherry Creek, coach Kathryn Ames expressed nothing but admiration for her squad.
"They say Creek has never missed a championship game," Ames said, "but this was no easy climb. No one expected us to be here with this young of a team, and the whole state of Colorado is getting better at lacrosse.
"These girls are fighters and I am so, so proud of them all."
After the game, though, you could see the determination was on the side of the Mustangs, who talked extensively about their drive to win the game.
"I grew up watching Creek and Colorado Academy play lacrosse," said Richards. "(On the first goal) I came around the side of the cage and all that was in my head was that I wanted everyone to know that I wanted this since I was practically in the womb."
Now Richards and the 2015 Colorado Academy lacrosse team are a fixture in that rich history.