DENVER — The skies opened up — only this time it wasn't rain. It was snow. A relentless snow. In late May.
No, they won't soon forget this one.
Cherry Creek boys lacrosse, a perennial power, captured the Class 5A championship in beating Kent Denver 12-7 on a snow-covered field.
"It was tough," Cherry Creek senior Connor Terrell said. "We got the snow going. We were confident the whole game; that's how we came out. So it didn't affect us."
Connor Terrell led the way for Cherry Creek with four goals, while Dante Orlando and Aidan Burke each scored three times.
The two teams battled the elements all night, starting with rain when the game began at 7:30 p.m. As the temperature dropped, the rain turned to snow — a driving, endless snow.
In fact, the snow was such a factor that the lines on the field required shoveling, and officials changed the usual white ball to a yellow one for better visibility.
"Every time we've had weather like this, typically that game gets cancelled," Cherry Creek coach Matthew Bocklet said. "But it seemed like we were going to play in this no matter what, and it just adds to this story, and this season."
When the teams emerged from halftime to see the snow had really picked up, Bocklet turned to his players: "We said, 'Shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot.' There's no way anyone can see the ball. I know we couldn't, but somehow (goalie) Chandler (Nayman) was still making saves there in the end."
Said Terrell: "It was getting tough to catch and throw, but we made it work."
The snow, Bocklet said, made for "an incredible setting for a championship game."
"I will definitely not forget this," Terrell said.
"I know I won't," Bocklet said.
Not much separated the two teams in the first half.
Kent Denver raced out to a 2-0 lead less than two minutes in, but Cherry Creek had tied the game at 2-2 by the time the first quarter ended.
The Bruins built a 5-3 lead with 1:29 to go in the second quarter, but Kent Denver scored two goals in the final minute of the half — including a rip from Maxwell Hewitt with seven seconds remaining.
Cherry Creek raced out in the third quarter, opening an 8-6 lead midway through the frame on a goal from Terrell. Kent cut it to 8-7 on a goal from Josh Melvin, but Creek's Terrell scored with 36 to play in the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Bruins only added to their lead with goals from Orlando, Burke and Henry Olson.
The two teams were awfully familiar with one another: Earlier this month, Kent Denver edged Cherry Creek 9-8 in overtime.
This is Cherry Creek's seventh state championship, the most of any boys lacrosse program in the state.
"We worked the whole season for this," Terrell said. "We've been working since before winter break. It feels good."