DENVER — Allie Sale and Rachael Walker shared a long embrace as tears trickled down their cheeks. Just minutes earlier, the Chatfield Lady Chargers’ unblemished 2014 girls lacrosse season came to a surprising end and the team fell to Air Academy 22-8 in the state semifinals at DU’s Barton Stadium on May 17.
Kaley Holmes and Emily Trousil scored five goals each as the Lady Kadets advance to face fifth-seeded Cherry Creek, a 12-11 winner over top-seeded Centaurus, in the finals on May 21. In all, six players scored for Air Academy (16-2), which utilized a balanced attack to stymie second-seeded Chatfield.
“I felt like that it could go one way or the other coming into it. I was hoping for a closer game, that’s for sure. I was hoping we’d come out on top,” Chatfield Senior head coach Adam Everett said. “The manner in which we lost I don’t know if it’s harder to take or not. It really comes down to execution on the field. That’s where Air Academy’s got us beat.”
Air Academy scored four times in the opening 88 seconds, forcing Chatfield to burn a timeout. Shelby Piper stopped the bleeding temporarily with a high shot, but draw control played a major factor in Chatfield’s downfall. Air Academy controlled the ball early and often, building a 7-1 lead. A doorstop save by Emilee McMinimee ignited the Lady Chargers’ push for their second goal, a Walker tally off a feed from Kendra Lanuza. But Chatfield’s goals were few and far between as the Lady Chargers were held to their fewest goal total since a playoff loss to Kent Denver two years earlier.
Lanuza scored a hat trick for her 99th, 100th and 101st goals of the season to lead Chatfield (17-1). Walker and Shelby Piper scored twice each, and Jen Lanuza had the Lady Chargers’ other goal. Air Academy, which won state titles in 2009 and 2012, went ahead 13-3 late in the first half, leading to a running clock.
“I think coming out kind of slow made the whole game seem slower, and we couldn’t get back into it after that,” Walker said.
It ended a season in which Chatfield achieved all of the goals it set forth for itself, including a Final Four appearance. That fact wasn’t lost on the vociferous Chatfield crowd that came out to support the team one final time.
“It means so much. I’ve never had so much Chatfield pride in my life. We had a huge support system. We never would’ve got where we got to without them,” Sale said.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.