AURORA — Regis Jesuit got its redemption. And it started early.
Senior attack Mike Bealer set the tone for the Raiders in the Class 5A boys lacrosse semifinals on Wednesday when he scored within 20 seconds to put the Raiders on the scoreboard. And with the defense looking as sharp as the offense, the top-seeded Raiders went on to beat No. 4 Cherry Creek 7-3.
"To hold a team like this to three goals was was amazing," Regis Jesuit coach Jim Soran said. "Our defense was just outstanding,"
The two teams were tied at 2 after the first quarter, but then the Raiders' offense got tallies from Cole Boland, Quentin Birch, and another from Bealer to take a 5-2 lead into halftime.
Then, Regis Jesuit's transition speed and high-dialed defense took over in the second half. Sophomores Nick Ringhofer and Anders Erickson scored two more, while their defense held the Bruins to only one second half goal.
Though Cherry Creek's sophomore Henry Savage rolled one into the goal off a beautiful assist from junior Dalton Leyden, no other shots could get through the Raiders' defensive wall.
It meant that Regis Jesuit defeated their frequent foes, and avenged their 6-5 overtime loss a month ago.
"We played a little pissed off, and our defense showed that," Bealer added. "It really stung when we lost last time. From our goalie to our defensive midfielders, everyone did their job. It felt good to win but this isn't the end."
Regis Jesuit has only allowed six goals during the postseason so far. The Raiders pulled off the win on Wednesday with only one penalty.
The Bruins, who won last season's 5A championship, had made every championship game since 2011. Cherry Creek and Regis Jesuit have met in the championship game the past two seasons, swapping titles each time.
(3) Arapahoe 9, (2) Mountain Vista 8
The second game of the evening was a physical one, with flags and players on the field lasting the duration of the game.
Ultimately, Arapahoe edged Mountain Vista 9-8 to reach the championship game for the first time since winning 5A in 2013.
Arapahoe was the first squad to put one on the scoreboard Wednesday, with a goal from senior Keenan Moffitt. Junior Evan Place answered almost immediately at the other end for The Golden Eagles.
In the second quarter, Mountain Vista quickly took over, with powerful offensive shooting from juniors Place Jake Frane and Colin Monroe. In eight minutes, the trio tallied three to take a sudden 4-1 lead.
But the Golden Eagles made a costly mistake with a illegal stick penalty, incurring a three-minute man-down time that lasted into the third quarter. The Warriors took full advantage, scoring two goals in under a minute at the start of the second half, cutting the deficit to one.
Place scored his third goal immediately after, seconds before their penalty expired. But the Warriors had no plan of stopping, scoring four in a row to take a 7-5 lead. Moffitt scored the fifth, sixth and seventh goals, earning a hat trick, his fourth goal, and his team's two-goal advantage.
The Golden Eagles scored in the last five seconds of the third quarter, and added another at the start of the fourth to tie the game with nine minutes left.
In the fourth, Arapahoe took an 8-7 lead on a goal from sophomore Riley Moynihan. And then Moffitt just kept finding the goal, grabbing a wild lofted pass with one hand and sending it right to the back of the net. It was his fifth goal and 53rd on the season.
But just as it looked that Arapahoe has sealed the deal, Mountain Vista's Jake Harvey cut it to 9-8.
With under a minute to play, Mountain Vista had an offensive opportunity but the ball skidded past their attack, allowing Arapahoe to complete the upset over No. 2 Mountain Vista.
The No. 3 Warriors hope to claim their third title in five years when they take on No. 1 Regis Jesuit in Friday's championship at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The game is set to start at 7 p.m.