ARVADA – Ike Eastburn was Cheyenne Mountain’s stopper Wednesday afternoon.
The Indians senior wasn’t physically stopping shots, but he stopped Green Mountain cold in its tracks every time the Rams gained a little momentum in the Class 4A state boys lacrosse semifinals at North Area Athletic Complex.
Eastburn scored five goals – two of which ended Green Mountain runs – and Cheyenne Mountain held on for an 11-7 victory to advance to the 4A championship game at 5 p.m. on Monday at All-City Stadium in Denver.
The defending 4A state champions will face seventh-seeded Golden, which upended No. 3 Thompson Valley by an identical 11-7 score.
“Above all, it’s really about the brotherhood we’ve built here,” Eastburn said. “The ultimate goal is to win that championship, but it comes out of the ultimate sacrifice that we put in starting in January. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a more dedicated and hard-working team my entire life.”
Cole Mika, Zak Paige and Wiley Burkett added two goals each for the Indians (16-2), who withstood four goals from Green Mountain (15-3) down the stretch. The Rams had used a three-goal outburst in less than two minutes to cut the deficit to 10-6 with a little more than six minutes remaining, but three minutes later Eastburn found the back of the net for the fifth time.
“Give all the credit to the freshman, Mitchell Lewis, there for making a big play, beating his guy and passing it to the inside,” Eastburn said. “We’ve had all trouble all year when we’re in close-game situations … we do sometimes struggle to close out games. I think being able to get that last one in there was pretty big.”
Eastburn scored two goals in the first 68 seconds of the game from the same spot on the field to give the Indians the early edge. Mika made it 3-0, but Karson Bell responded with back-to-back goals for Green Mountain to make it a 3-2 game.
With the Rams a man down though, Eastburn sparked a three-goal run to push the lead four. He added another goal at the halftime buzzer, just pushing the ball into the net as time expired.
“Some guys stepped up that were absolutely clutch, and that’s what you want,” Indians coach Mike Paige said. “We’ve got a well-balanced team, and on any given day, three or four of them can put it together.”
Cheyenne Mountain led 10-3 early in the fourth quarter before the Rams began their comeback. Tanner Wagner scored a pair of goals and Bell added his third.
Ryan Burdi made 10 saves in goal for the Rams.
“Green Mountain just battled us. We knew at this level it was going to be a battle, and that’s exactly the kind of game we wanted,” Paige said. “I congratulate them, they are a fantastic team.”
Golden storms into first title game
Less than a week after taking down No. 2 Erie in the quarterfinals, Golden continued its march to its first-ever state championship appearance.
The Demons used a pair of four-goal blitzes to gain the edge on No. 3 Thompson Valley, then withstood a wild fourth quarter for an 11-7 victory Wednesday night in the semifinals.
Golden (13-6) now moves on to face top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain with the 4A state title at stake.
“It’s crazy to come in as the seventh seed and pull these great upsets,” Golden senior Broderick Calley said. “I can’t even explain it.”
Brady desGarennes scored five goals and Calley added three consecutive scores in the third quarter, two of which came in man-up situations. The senior only scored eight goals in the regular season but has five in his past two postseason contests.
Golden went up 4-0 midway through the second quarter thanks to three goals from desGarennes. Thompson Valley (13-5) added two scores just before the half to get back into it, but the Demons outscored the Eagles 4-0 in the third quarter to go up 8-2.
Calley scored three times in less than five minutes.
“We just had a lot of energy coming out of halftime that carried us into the third quarter,” Calley said. “It’s just moving the ball, and fundamental offense.”
Thompson Valley scored five goals in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get closer than to within four. Jared McFerran finished with three goals.
Calley said Golden was playing with a lot of confidence after upsetting Erie last Friday, but the Demons know their biggest test is yet to come in the defending state champions.
“We’ve got a couple days to prepare,” he said. “We’ve really got to grind, because they’re a really good team. But we’re going to bring it all.”