ENGLEWOOD – Four teams took the field at Englewood High School on Saturday to decide which two would battle for the Class 5A state championship in Season D. The potential for several firsts was established when Mountain Vista and Valor Christian emerged victorious.
Next Tuesday, those two teams will return to Englewood to one another in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. It will be both teams' first appearance in the Class 5A title game.
(4) Mountain Vista 13, (1) Cherry Creek 12
There have been many big moments in Mountain Vista boys lacrosse history, but arguably the biggest of the them all now belongs to Cam Brown.
With his team battling defending state champion Cherry Creek in overtime of a state semifinal game at Englewood High School on Saturday, Brown shouldered his way past his defender and scored from the left side to send his team home with a 13-12 victory. Thanks to the senior's golden goal, the Golden Eagles will play for a golden trophy when they make their first Class 5A state championship appearance on Tuesday.
"I knew as soon as we got the ball in overtime, the game was over," Brown said. "Our offense is good and we were playing Vista lacrosse all-around. I got by my guy and I just did what I had to do. We're the hardest working team in the state and we knew we had a shot at state. Now, we're here."
Saturday's penultimate-round game may have ended in favor of Mountain Vista, but it began quite differently. The defending champions raced out to a 4-0 lead before the Golden Eagles scored five unanswered goals to get back in front. The contest was tied eight different times.
"We knew it was going to be an absolute dogfight," Mountain Vista head coach Matthew Plitnick said. "They've got great coaches over there. They've got great players. We dug ourselves a huge hole early that I was not very happy with, but then we started to have confidence in the way that we were prepared. We started executing a lot better and this is the first time Vista has ever played for a state championship in lacrosse. We have about 18 kids on the team, so we have a real small roster and I'm real proud of the eight seniors we have to the team because they all play a big role for us."
Cherry Creek's Dakota Johnson and Thomas Power each scored four goals. Mountain Vista's Dillon Pless, Caleb Bonjean and Brown each recorded a hat trick.
In Tuesday's championship game, the Golden Eagles will face No. 2 Valor Christian. Mountain Vista dealt Valor Christian its sole loss of the season back on May 14.
(2) Valor Christian 10, (6) Regis Jesuit 7
The Valor Christian boys lacrosse team has won two Class 4A state championships in the last six years and the Eagles would certainly love to add a 5A trophy to their growing collection.
They'll soon get their chance.
In the state semifinals on Saturday at Englewood High School, No. 2 Valor Christian won 10-7 over No. 6 Regis Jesuit to reach the 5A state championship game for the first time. After missing out on what they believed to be a promising season when the global pandemic shut down high school sports in 2020, the Eagles are even more motivated to get the job done in Season D.
"It means everything," Eagles senior Griffin Mallory said. "Last year was devastating because we had a great senior class. These guys this year, we really came together and we knew what our goals were from the beginning. We wanted to go to state. It didn't stop with a day of work. We came out every single day and this is the result."
With two familiar conference rivals squaring off, Saturday's game went back and forth throughout the bulk of the contest with both defenses setting the tone early on. The score was tied four times before Valor Christian became the first team to pull ahead by more than a goal in the third quarter. The Eagles led 6-5 going into the fourth quarter and scored four unanswered goals to start the fourth quarter to distance themselves from their opponents.
Valor Christian led by as many as five goals in the final frame before Regis Jesuit was able to mount a late comeback attempt and cut the led to three before the final buzzer. Valor Christian's Jake Likes led all scorers with four goals, while teammate Gunnar Fellows and Mallory each had two. Will McFadden led Regis Jesuit with a pair of goals.
In the championship game, Valor Christian will face a Mountain Vista team that beat the Eagles, 12-10, during the regular season. The blemish stands as Valor Christian's only loss to date in Season D.
"We're excited. We really were hoping for Vista," Valor Christian head coach Josh Hoffman said. "That's our only loss for the year, so we've been wanting to play them and we're excited to play them again. Hopefully, we'll be ready to go."
Tuesday's 5A title game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Englewood High School.