In its last two state championship games, the Cherry Creek field hockey team lost them both a combined two goals. It's been an emotional hunt for the Bruins as they haven't claimed a championship in the sport since 2007.
They're hoping that streak ends this year.
Boasting two Division I players and a senior class of 10 players, the CHSAANow.com No. 2 Bruins are expecting nothing less than another shot to win state gold. And in an odd way, the moving of field hockey to Season C has given them a few unforeseen benefits.
"One huge advantage I think we have, is that our girls have had their eyes on this championship since the last time we were able to play," coach Clare Detrick-Yee said. "That means that they got an extension of continued months of training to make sure their fitness ready so when we came into tryouts for this accelerated season, my entire varsity team is by far the fittest they've ever been. Everyone's looking sharp."
That has certainly been the case on the field. They won their first four games by a combined score of 22-1. Their first test came in a March 31 showdown with No. 4 Regis Jesuit, a game they won 5-2.
"They've been the team to knock us out for the past few years," Detrick-Yee said.
Heading into that contest, senior Tallulah Fuhs led the team - and the state - with seven goals. Those are the kind of numbers that will get someone to the Division I level. Fuhs will play collegiately at Bucknell while teammate Ella Pratt heads off to the University of New Hampshire.
But they have unfinished business to take care of first and there are plenty of girls that have been with the program long enough to make deep playoff runs but are still hungry to get that last win or two to finish off a season while also keeping the future of the program in mind.
"We have 10 seniors who are bringing a lot of leadership and owning their positions," Detrick-Yee said. "They're already teaching the younger players about the quality of field hockey that we play at Cherry Creek."
A big step toward a state title has to do with the style of play for the Bruins. They missed out on the state championship game with a 1-0 loss to Regis in the semifinals last year and also suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Regis in the state championship game in 2018.
This year, they have a style of play that feels conducive to getting over those one-goal loss demons and reaching a level they haven't seen in nearly 14 years.
"We have a really attacking center game this year, which hasn't been the case the last two years" Detrick-Yee said. "It's been amazing. We're getting some quality shots off and our circle play is really strong, as well as our corners."
The results are showing on the field now and that has often been the case for the Bruins. Now they need to focus on carrying that momentum into the postseason and claiming a title they have badly wanted for the last 14 years.