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Dakota Ridge knocking on playoff door, tops Littleton

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By Craig Harper
For the Courier
DENVER — Dakota Ridge’s second-year lacrosse program didn’t accomplish one of its primary goals this season: beating rivals Columbine and/or Chatfield. But after a 14-4 win over Littleton in the Littleton Cup on April 19 at the University of Denver’s Peter Barton Stadium, a berth in the 16-team 5A playoffs remained a solid possibility, even a likelihood.
“Actually, the ultimate goal is to get to the playoffs. And if we can do that in our second year of existence that would be something pretty special," coach Mike Thumim said after the Eagles improved to 8-4 with their fourth straight win since an 11-8 loss to Chatfield.
“We’re all aware, we’re all fighting," said sophomore Cody Hill, who notched five goals against the Lions. “We’re going to do our best."
Hill’s fourth score capped a three-goal outburst in 44 seconds that gave Dakota Ridge an 8-1 lead with 7:34 left in the half. “That’s the kind of stuff that’s been going against us in our losses," Thumim said. “But it finally turned around for us in this game, and it was great."
Littleton (3-8) twice got within five goals in the second quarter before freshman Harper Silliman tallied 36.4 seconds before halftime for a 10-4 lead. Dakota Ridge dominated the third quarter 4-0, the Lions getting just one shot on goal and surrendering three short-handed goals.
“It was a good run, we had a lot of energy,’’ Littleton coach Brad Todd said of his team’s solid second quarter. “But we came out too flat after the half (and made) too many fundamental mistakes in the third quarter.’’
Junior Taylor Davis scored added three goals for the Eagles to maintain his team lead by one over Hill, 31-30, and Ryan Schneider, the No. 3 scorer, added two goals.
"The kids are starting to play to the potential I thought that they had at the beginning of the year,’’ Thumim said.
“We’re pulling it together as a team,’’ Hill concurred. “We’re starting to be smarter with passes. We’re starting to be more team-minded rather than individuals.’’
Senior Joshua Barrow led Littleton with two goals. Riley Harden and Joseph Timm also scored for Littleton, which has struggled for offensive consistency.
“We’ve got the talent,’’ Todd said. “ We’ve got a couple of really talented guys on offense. But we just haven’t been able to gel as a unit yet.’’
Thumim said Todd confided before the game his senior-laden team’s talent belied its record. “We’ve got a good group of kids,’’ Todd said. “We’ve got good talent, but we’ve just not been able to stay competitive in games. We make mental errors consistently. We’ve played a lot of teams tough but we haven’t been able to find the winning edge yet.’’
Four of the Lions’ losses this season were to teams ranked in the top six in last week’s 5A poll. Dakota Ridge was 16th in the voting.