LAKEWOOD — The motivation for the Columbine Rebels since Day 1 has been to win a state boys lacrosse championship. And that desire has not ebbed — a fact Boulder found out the hard way on May 4 at Trailblazer Stadium.
Ryan Kelly scored the Rebels’ first six goals — all in the first period — and Jake Gonzales added four tallies as Columbine used the visiting Panthers as a steppingstone in their quest in a 20-3 regular-season finale victory. In all, nine players scored for the Rebels (11-5, 7-0 5A Front Range).
But what might have been the true motivator for conference champion Columbine was its 7-6 loss two nights earlier to top-ranked Cherry Creek. The Rebels’ only in-state loss all season was a wake-up call with the postseason on the horizon.
“I think we were all just kind of angry with it. We kind of bounced back, and we’re using that anger and really coming out in practice the next day and playing really well,” Kelly said. “Our coach got us prepared for this game.”
Columbine never trailed and forced a running clock with a 12-goal differential after Adam Jensen’s goal just two minutes into the second half. Boulder (7-7, 4-4) got two goals from Ian Oden and another from Aidan Sperry, but encountering Columbine after the Cherry Creek game was no fun.
“You never like to lose, but I think that could’ve been the best thing for us,” said Columbine head coach Matt Plitnick. “We didn’t play a complete game, and we hung within one goal of the No. 1 team in the state. So certainly we used that this week for practice. We know what we’ve got to do to get where we want to go, which is a state championship. Unfortunately, Boulder was just in our way today.”
So is this the year for Columbine, which reached the state semifinals last season before losing to eventual champion Arapahoe and was in the Sweet 16 the previous two years? It could be, Plitnick said, especially if the Rebels get senior midfielder Jack Stebbins back from a broken collarbone.
“This is definitely shaping up to be. We should hopefully have Jack Stebbins back. In his absence, we’ve had a lot of younger players who’ve been able to step up and play very important roles. We’ve seen a product of that in the last couple of games with the big win over Monarch, the big win over Fairview and the big win over Boulder here,” Plitnick said. “If he does come back with what we’re doing right now, we’re going to be tough to stop.”
They already are.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.