AURORA — Brandon Bergner tied the game in style and Dylan Wells took the gritty route to give Kent Denver a 12-11 win over top-seeded Valor Christian in the Class 5A boys lacrosse semifinals.
What began as a see-saw affair saw each team make a run to take a multiple goal lead. Kent Denver's surge came toward the end of the first half and it was the Sun Devils who went into the locker room with a 7-4 lead.
But it didn't last. The Eagles came out strong in the third quarter and were able to take a 10-8 lead at one point.
Coach Ben Brenneman that he had to keep his boys composed and mentally in the game if they were going to have a shot to return to the state championship game.
"It was tough," Brenneman said. "We lost the second quarter 6-1, I believe. That was a tough quarter for us. But teams that are here in the semifinals are going to be good for a run or two. But we weathered the storm."
The Sun Devils lost to 10-4 Regis Jesuit last year, but they're looking forward to getting another chance to come away with their first title since 2008.
And it was Wells who scored the game-winning goal to give Kent that chance. Max Hewitt controlled the ball at the point before making his move toward the net. He found Wells right in front and a quick move got the ball into the net, advancing Kent Denver to Monday's championship game while also handing Valor its first loss of the year.
"We've always been a fourth quarter team this year," Wells said. "Sometimes we've have battles all the way through the end of the third quarter but we've been able to pull ahead in the fourth. I attribute that to our coach. He's really smart when we have the ball and we try to take long possessions, especially at the end of the game."
(3) Cherry Creek 14, (10) Highlands Ranch 3
Henry Olson scored five goals in the first half as Cherry Creek grabbed a decisive win in the second semifinal game of the night.
The Bruins return to the to the 5A title game for the first time since 2017. Dating back to 2015, Cherry Creek had won a state championship in every odd year.
The Bruins are set to meet Kent Denver in the 5A title game. The Sun Devils beat Cherry Creek 9-8 in overtime to end the regular season on May 3.
Creek was down 8-3 going into the fourth quarter before rallying to force overtime.
Monday's state championship game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start at All-City Stadium.