COLORADO SPRINGS — Of the 14 goals that Cheyenne Mountain scored Wednesday night, Cullen Nordeman only scored on of them. But it was the only one he needed to score.
Nordeman got the game-winner in overtime as the Indians beat Air Academy 14-13 in a battle of teams both ranked in the top five of the Class 4A CHSAANow.com lacrosse rankings.
And it was every bit the back-and-forth affair that the teams thought it would be going in.
"We knew it was going to be an absolute battle," Indians coach Mike Paige said. "We didn't expect it to go back and forth like that. That was something."
It was in a span of just one minute and five seconds that the Kadets (7-5 overall, 4-2 Pikes Peak League) were able to show that they meant business against the state's second-ranked team.
Chapman Cox connected on two goals and Eddie MacGuire added one to give Air Academy a sudden 3-0 lead, prompting a timeout from Paige to call for a timeout to settle the Indians (11-2, 5-0).
His players responded with with two goals in a 22-second span, including one from Jack Clancy whose stick broke as the Indians brought the ball into the Air Academy zone. He retrieved a fresh one from the bench and was able to get in position in front of the net where a received a pass and put it right past Colt O’Connell to make it a one-goal game.
The Kadets got one back to take a 4-2 lead after the first quarter. And then Cheyenne Mountain’s dynamic duo got involved.
August Johnson scored twice in a three-minute gap and Kai Case added one in between as the Indians took a 5-4 lead, their first of the game.
“That's what lacrosse is all about,” Johnson said. "It's a battle the whole time. That was a fight."
Less than a minute after the Indians took the lead, MacGuire scored again to send the game into overtime locked in a 5-5 tie.
So with the score even, both teams just had to start from scratch for the final 24 minutes of regulation.
“A game like this, everyone comes out a little tightly wound,” Kadets coach Mike Mandico said. "When you're tight, you tend to mistakes, you throw the ball away, you're not as patient."
It took almost half of the first quarter for the first goal of the game to be scored, so the reset paid off for both teams as they each scored less than two minutes into the start of the second half.
And just when it seemed like either team would find an edge, the other would come back with an answer. Johnson scored three of his game-high six goals in the third quarter. And MacGuire always seemed to respond for the Kadets when he needed to.
The Indians were able to use their zone defense to limit the scoring ability of Jake Thornally. The Air Force commit only scored two goals on the night.
Instead, it was players like MacGuire and Chapman Cox who paced the offense for the Kadets. With the clock winding down, Cox was able to find an opening and tie the game with 13 seconds left, sending it to sudden death.
Less than two minutes in, the Cheyenne Mountain defense came up big and on a fast-break attempt, Case found an open Nordeman who was able to end the game.
"Kai came down the middle and he drew my defender and just like practice, I cut across and let it loose," Nordeman said. "It did what it did. I'm pretty thankful."
With the postseason on the horizon, Nordeman and his teammates knew that this was a game that they couldn't let slip away.
"This was nice for us," he said. "It's always good to have this experience late in the season, going into playoffs."