LAKEWOOD | After two days, three venues and a considerable amount of logistics, the Regis Jesuit boys lacrosse team finally punched its ticket to the Class 5A state championship game Thursday afternoon.
The Raiders played the first 40 minutes, 24 seconds, of their 5A semifinal against Arapahoe Wednesday night at Legacy Stadium before lightning and rain forced the game to be postponed. Snow scrubbed plans to play the remaining 7:26 at Stutler Bowl — with Regis Jesuit in front 10-5 — and eventually forced a move to an indoor facility, the Foothills Sports Arena.
Despite all that, the Raiders picked up the intensity they left off with and finished off a 15-7 win over the Warriors to go the long way into Friday night’s 5A state championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Second-seeded Regis Jesuit (15-3) squares off with top-seeded Cherry Creek (17-1) at 7:30 p.m.
In his lengthy time coaching lacrosse, veteran Raiders coach Jim Soran said he’d never experienced anything like what his team went through over a two-day span to get the game completed.
“This is unique, I must say,” Soran said. “But, this is springtime in the Rockies and you have to deal with what you can’t control.”
In the first portion of the game, Regis Jesuit rallied from an early deficit against Arapahoe to get within one in a rematch of teams that played for last season’s 5A state championship. The Raiders had scored six straight goals and had every part of their game rolling until lightning and pelting rain forced the stoppage of the game.
Soran knew it was an odd situation, but tried to get his players to mentally get back into the moment from the previous night that had given them the momentum.
“It was very weird,” said senior Quentin Birch, who netted the tying goal for Regis Jesuit the previous night.
“Last night, we overcame a deficit and then coming in today it was a weird transition playing hours later. All day, our coach emphasized picking up where we left off and we came out and got it done. We knew Arapahoe was a good team and even with a five-goal lead, they weren’t just going to let us have it. We had to come out and fight for this one.”
Indeed the Raiders got right back into the groove as senior Grant Breeden — who scored the last goal the previous night — ripped the net with a man-up advantage and sophomore Jake Taylor scored to make it a 12-5 game.
Arapahoe got one back with a score on a man-up situation, but sophomore Joe Kassal won the ensuing faceoff and raced upfield where he fed Taylor, who ripped the net with his seventh goal of the game.
“This was definitely my best offensive game of the year at the perfect time,” Taylor said. “It was about finding openings and just wanting it.”
With such a short turnaround before the final, Soran put his team through a practice just after the game to get in its work.
The Raiders will need their offense and defense to be at its best for its next challenge in the Bruins, who haven’t lost since Regis Jesuit dealt it a 14-11 defeat March 15.
That was a long time ago, however.
“They’ve changed a lot; they are a very potent team so we have a challenge ahead of us, but we like it,” Soran said.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(2) REGIS JESUIT 15, (6) ARAPAHOE 7
Score by quarters:
Arapahoe 1 4 0 2 — 7
Regis Jesuit 1 3 2 9 — 15
Regis Jesuit goals: Jake Taylor 7, Anders Erickson 3, Grant Breeden 2, Nick Ringhofer 2, Quentin Birch. Regis Jesuit assists: Birch 2, Erickson 2, Patrick Roe 2, Taylor 2, Reed Babcock, Joe Kassal. Regis Jesuit saves: Braden Host (15 shots on goal-8 saves)