LAKEWOOD — Columbine remains the top dog when it comes to boys lacrosse in Jeffco.
The Rebels, ranked No. 3 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 5A boys lacrosse poll, proved Friday that its still the team to beat in the 5A Jeffco League. Columbine scored a 7-2 victory over rival and previously undefeated No. 9 Dakota Ridge at Trailblazer Stadium.
“This is pretty big for us,” said Columbine goalie Gavin Beilman, who kept the Eagles scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter. “Dakota Ridge had the undefeated record. We wanted to show that we are still here.”
Columbine (9-1, 4-0 in league) never trailed, scoring the first seven goals. Juniors Leo Grossman and Taylor Gustafson scored a goal each. Senior Nick Darrow poured in a pair while the Rebels’ leading scorer Gabe Mein poured in a trio into the back of the net.
Mein wore the 99 jersey instead of his normal 37 in memory of the victims of the April 20, 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School.
“I was honored to wear it,” Mein said of wearing the 99 jersey. “It’s pretty special and humbling.
The Rebels are tied with Lewis-Palmer (5-4, 4-0) atop the 5A Jeffco after handing Dakota Ridge (11-1, 3-1) its first loss.
The Eagles scored late goals by juniors Jacobi Villamaria and Drew Eickelman to prevent getting shut out.
“There was too much talk about the record,” Dakota Ridge coach James Foote said of the Eagles coming in as the lone undefeated team left in 5A. “I want the guys to focus on the moment.”
Columbine still has three conference games left.
The Rebels face Bear Creek and Pine Creek next week before its league finale against Lewis-Palmer on Monday, April 30, that will probably decide the league title. The Rangers do have a challenging schedule next week facing Dakota Ridge and No. 8 Lakewood (10-2, 2-2).
“It was definitely a reality check in conference play. Usually we just breeze through the league,” Mein said of facing the upstart Lakewood and Dakota Ridge programs this week.
The Rebels have a pair of non-league tune-ups before the start of the postseason. Columbine is at No. 1 Regis Jesuit on May 2 before wrapping up the regular season against old rival Wheat Ridge on May 4.
“They are the team to beat right now,” Columbine coach Henry Sulzbacher said of Regis.
The only loss Columbine has suffered this season was to No. 4 Cherry Creek. The Rebels nearly pulled off a remarkable second-half comeback after falling behind 7-0 at halftime. Eventually the Bruins held on for an 11-9 victory on April 4.
“We learned a lot about ourselves,” Sulzbacher said of the loss to the Bruins. “We got exposed when it comes to dealing with pressure. Better to learn that in April then May.”
Regis (9-1, 2-0 in South Suburban League) lost to Torrey Pines in California during its spring break trip.
“Every day we ask if we are playing well enough to beat Regis,” Mein said. “They are the ones with the target on their back. It’s a work in progress toward that game on May 2.”
The Eagles close out their regular season with league games against Bear Creek, Lewis-Palmer and rival Chatfield before likely heading to the postseason.