ENGLEWOOD – Back-to-back goals from Kevin Papa helped Cheyenne Mountain overcome a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to topple Evergreen, 5-4, in the Class 4A boys lacrosse state championship on Tuesday evening at Englewood High School.
Cheyenne Mountain, which won the state title in 2018, earned the second state title in program history and avenged a 10-9 loss to Golden in the 2019 finals.
Kevin Papa was the hero for the Indians, scoring the last two goals, a turnaround strike off the far post with just under four minutes left in the game, then again with 48 seconds left in the contest as he streaked across the face of goal from a Zak Paige pass.
“It was an awesome game,” Papa said. “All of my boys put me in a good position to score and we just made it happen in the second half. We were getting our shots all game, just some of them weren’t falling. We just played like we know how and tried to move the ball faster than they could move their feet.”
Not to be understated was the tremendous effort by Cheyenne Mountain. Goalkeeper Matthew Kelleher came up with eight terrific saves to hold the Cougars well below their scoring average.
“It was a tough, physical game out there today, the refs definitely let us play, but I thought they called a great game,” Kelleher said. “We just kept our composure and playing like we know how.”
The defenses excelled on both sides, as Andrew Morris stifled the Cheyenne Mountain offense in goal for the most part, tallying seven saves. Defensemen Mike Crane and Jared Stiller played a hard, physical game in the trenches. Stiller even recorded a pair of long-stick goals.
Cheyenne Mountain head coach Mike Paige felt a special connection to this group in Season D.
“Last year, we had to let some seniors go and we had a phenomenal team,” Paige said. “This year’s seniors felt like that was an opportunity missed, but they weren’t going to let this one slip by. I’ve been coaching these guys since they were 4- and 5-year-olds. To see this season come together the way it did, these guys worked hard and it all magically happened.”
Evergreen made history with its first appearance in the title game and the Cougars played their hearts out, holding Cheyenne Mountain scoreless for just under 32 minutes.
It was also the second-lowest scoring game since 2006 when Cherry Creek beat Denver East, 6-2. It was the lowest scoring contest in a 4A title game since the two classifications started having separate championships in 2013.